by Grazie Pozo Christie
What would it be like to go to work in the morning and find a death threat spray-painted across the façade of your office? What would it be like knowing that a facility just like yours was recently fire-bombed near Buffalo, New York? Would you keep showing up? Would you continue to put yourself in danger?
Maybe you could, if you knew you were saving fragile lives and helping vulnerable women and girls each day. Maybe you could, if you were very brave.
These are the hard questions facing the volunteers and staff at a pregnancy care center in South Florida where I volunteer. It was recently vandalized with spray-painted threats. Like other pregnancy care centers, our facility assists under-resourced pregnant women and families. Our clients are already struggling to make ends meet. Unlike the nearby Planned Parenthood, our center offers real choice. While Planned Parenthood offers exactly one solution for parents in this situation – abortion, and cash up front, please! – our center offers material necessities, parental education, assistance in accessing obstetric care, ultrasounds, and adoption referrals for those who don’t feel they are prepared to parent. All free, of course. And the mothers who nevertheless choose to have an abortion are always welcomed back with open arms for post-abortion grief counseling when and if they need it.
These are the works of mercy that have sparked the ire of hate groups like the one that claimed responsibility for the recent arson at a Wisconsin pregnancy care center. The vandals scrawl a variant of the same phrase at each site: “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either.” The group’s name – Jane’s Revenge – was painted across our facility’s wall. Their communique, as issued via journalist Robert Evans, reads, in part: “We have run thin on patience and mercy…we [shall] adopt increasingly extreme tactics to maintain freedom over our own bodies.” These are the kinds of words used by ideologues and extremists who are, indeed, ready to use violence to cleanse the world of the people who disagree with them.
Since the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, the furor of the pro-abortion left has reached a fever pitch. The Department of Homeland Security reported an increase in violent threats against sitting justices and the Supreme Court building. Also immediately targeted for violence were those who take to heart a central tenet of their faith – namely, that all people are made in God’s image and are deserving of our respect and protection. Specifically, those who believe that the vulnerable and innocent unborn child must absolutely be counted amongst those whose lives matter. Somehow that has made them targets for the far left, and we are seeing the results across the country in vandalism, destruction, arson, defacement of sacred objects, and anti-Catholic language spray-painted on houses of worship.
And it didn’t take long for extremists to direct their fury at pregnancy care centers, the compassionate outreach arm of the pro-life movement which embraces vulnerable moms and families. Arson in Wisconsin, defacement in the District of Columbia, fire-bombing in Buffalo, and vandalism threatening violence here in Hollywood, Florida, are but a few of the examples of this terrorism.
These acts must be prosecuted just as vigorously as any other act of violence – including those which have been committed against abortion facilities in the past. Violence is contagious and once unleashed, can grow exponentially. That’s one reason it must never be tolerated, from anyone.
This is a scary time for pregnancy center employees and volunteers. But those who stand the most to lose are our clients: the working poor, many of them immigrants without legal status, who long to welcome their beloved children into life but are beset by difficulties on every side. At a pregnancy care center, their longing is taken seriously and addressed. Our volunteers move heaven and earth each day to see that the poor and marginalized can make room in their lives for a new little son or daughter in the same joyous way that affluent and middle-class couples do. The recent outbreak of violence targeting these centers is not only a sign of an increasingly intolerant society, but it also threatens to shut down their critical and compassionate work.
– – –
Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D. is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association.