Life-affirming reproductive health facilities, commonly known as pregnancy resource centers (PRCs), are motivated by their religious beliefs to support women and parents. They distribute free diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, blankets and clothing. Many offer programs and services that help equip new parents facing the important job of raising their children, including free screenings for STDs, free pregnancy tests, medical consultations and professional counseling.
Since the leak of the Dobbs v Jackson draft opinion in May 2022, more than 100 attacks on PRCs have been reported, including fire bombings and arson which damaged or destroyed many properties, as well as rocks and bricks thrown through windows. Many facilities were graffitied with threatening messages, such as, “If abortion is not safe, you aren’t safe.”
First Liberty represents Heartbeat of Miami, a faith-based pregnancy resource center that has endured unlawful acts of vandalism from Jane’s Revenge and its associates who defaced and spray-painted Heartbeat’s property. The vandals also hacked their way onto Heartbeat’s annual gala, where they shouted obscenities, disparaged their staff, volunteers, and supporters.
– First Liberty Senior Counsel, Jeremy Dys
Violence against faith-based, life-affirming organizations isn’t just wrong. It’s punishable under federal law.
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act makes it a federal crime to use force, threaten violence, or physically obstruct people from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services. The law also imposes civil penalties against those who attempt to injure, intimidate, or interfere with life-affirming reproductive health facilities. President Clinton signed it into law in 1994 regarding abortion clinics. But the Act’s language includes “reproductive health services” and, in another provision, provides churches with similar protections.
The rule of law compels our lawsuit. Vigilante justice has no place in our country. The law is clear: if you attack or vandalize a life-affirming reproductive health facility, you will be held to account.
Along with First Liberty, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is leading the effort to protect all faith-based pregnancy care centers. Her office also filed a federal lawsuit seeking to impose civil penalties against those who vandalized three facilities in her state.
This lawsuit is the first brought by a state Attorney General under the FACE Act to defend pregnancy resource centers. We commend her determination to hold these vandals, along with the broader network associated with Jane’s Revenge, accountable.
Violence is never a lawful response to political disagreement. We are a nation committed to the rule of law. Those who target life-affirming reproductive health facilities and use violence as a means to advance their disagreement must face the legal penalties Congress established for their crimes.
No organization in America should be attacked because of its religious beliefs about life. Violence against faith-based groups that care for the most vulnerable is appalling. Everyone who cherishes freedom and civility should reject such attacks.
Please consider a timely gift to First Liberty today. Your support is essential in stopping these attacks. Your donation will help us defend religious groups, houses of worship and all Americans so they can practice their faith without fear of having their property burned, defaced or vandalized.
*If contributions exceed the immediate needs of a specific project or case, First Liberty may redirect funds at its discretion to provide support for other religious liberty matters.