FBI investigating attacks against pregnancy resource centers

Health

Protestors in support of abortion rights gather in front of the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Saturday, May 14, 2022. (Sean McKeag/The Citizens’ Voice via AP)

(NewsNation) — As the nation waits for a final Supreme Court decision on abortion, the FBI is investigating a series of attacks and threats against pregnancy resource centers and faith-based organizations.

“The FBI takes all threats seriously and we continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and will remain vigilant to protect our communities,” the bureau said in a statement to NewsNation Friday.

Last month, a draft opinion made public by Politico suggested the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts later confirmed the authenticity of this document.

The court is set to release two dozen rulings by the end of June or early July before recessing for the summer, Insider reported. One of them is the ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson that would effectively end Roe. Dobbs’ case concerns the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law that would ban abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Since the document was leaked, there has been heightened tensions on both sides of the abortion debate, according to the Department of Homeland Security, with individuals who advocate for and against abortion rights encouraging violence against the government and religious and reproductive health care facilities.

The Washington Post reports that police are investigating a suspected arson at an anti-abortion center in a suburb of Buffalo, New York. It also detailed reports of two molotov cocktails that were found inside Wisconsin Family Action, and two thrown at the Oregon Right to Life office. The exterior of anti-abortion pregnancy resource centers were vandalized in North Carolina and Virginia, according to the Post. Recently, an armed man was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house after making threats against the justice.

But abortion providers have long been subject to attacks as well. According to the National Abortion Federation, abortion providers reported an increase in death threats and threats of harm in 2020, up to 200 from the 92 they saw in 2019. Reports of assault and battery outside clinics rose by 125% during that time period as well, for a total of 54 incidents. Abortion providers reported 3,413 targeted incidents of hate mail and harassing phone calls, the National Abortion Federation said. Police also believe someone set fire in May to a Wyoming abortion clinic that was set to open one month later.

“Terrorism is terrorism, and it is against the law and it needs to be stopped,” former FBI agent Phil Andrew said. “Those that are out there contemplating violence should know that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are out there.”

Melissa Fowler, the National Abortion Federation’s chief program officer, told NBC that clinics fear the Supreme Court’s potential overturn of Roe v. Wade will lead to more attacks.

The AP contributed to this article.

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