Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there have been more than 100 instances of pro-abortion vandalism, which has included graffiti, damaged property, and arson. The federal government has only brought charges under the FACE Act against one group of alleged vandals in Florida.
“While these radical left-wing groups go unpunished, the Justice Department at the same time has unleashed federal law enforcement on pro-life advocates,” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana said.
One of the pro-life pregnancy centers that was vandalized was New Life Family Services, based in Minneapolis. Tammy Kocher, the center’s executive director, testified that its new building was badly damaged.
“We had multiple windows smashed in. The front of our building was covered with threatening graffiti messages,” Kocher told committee members. “Again, we were warned ‘If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you.’ Other graffiti stated ‘Jane was here,’ ‘F12,’ etc. The vandals caused more than $30,000 worth of damage in a matter of two minutes.”
Kocher said she has been in touch with the FBI but that she does not know if it has identified any suspects. New Life Family Services was the fifth pro-life pregnancy center vandalized in the state and there have not yet been any arrests in any of these incidents, according to Kocher.
Arielle Del Turco, the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, testified that her organization has tracked a rise in attacks on places of worship, which have included acts of vandalism and bomb threats. There have been more than 500 attacks against churches since 2018 and at least 57 pro-abortion attacks against churches since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, she said.
“Violent attacks against places of worship are completely unacceptable and it should concern those of all faiths and political persuasions,” Del Turco said. “As long as the FACE Act is on the books, it should be used to go after perpetrators of attacks on places of worship.”
Jeremy Dys, who serves as senior counsel at the First Liberty Institute, said the most difficult part of prosecuting these cases is the initial step of finding the person responsible. He said that starts with the Department of Justice.
“It’s incumbent upon our leadership to ensure that the full weight of the federal government and the law is being applied,” Dys said.
Democrats accuse Republicans of creating a false narrative
Some Democratic committee members accused Republicans of pushing a false narrative. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pennsylvania, argued that the federal government has offered rewards for people who provide information on the attacks.
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Scanlon added that the Department of Justice has been in contact with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to increase awareness of the protections offered under the FACE Act.
“My colleagues on the other side of the aisle continue to push a false narrative that the federal government is out to get them, but the facts are not on their side,” Scanlon said.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, said it appears as though the Department of Justice is enforcing the law fairly.
“There is zero evidence that federal prosecutors are selectively targeting anti-abortion protesters under the FACE Act,” Nadler said.
Talcott Camp, the chief legal and strategy officer at the National Abortion Federation, argued that attacks on abortion clinics in states where abortion remains legal have also increased since the Supreme Court decision.
“Just as Dobbs left open the door for a nationwide ban on abortion, Dobbs also emboldened anti-abortion extremists to go specifically to clinics and states that protect abortion rights,” Camp said.