Pregnancy centers reflect on a year of violence after the end of Roe v. Wade

Tammy Kocher said her clinic experienced an increase in threatening behavior after Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a consumer alert about pregnancy centers last August.

pregnancy centers
The New Life Family Services location in Minneapolis was vandalized in March. (New Life Family Services)

(Daily Caller News Foundation) — A year after the Supreme Court handed down its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, sparking protests outside the justices’ homes and attacks on pro-life organizations, pregnancy centers have face heightened opposition.

Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision leaked in May 2022, there have been 87 attacks on pro-life groups and pregnancy centers, according to Catholic Vote. Five center directors, who have each dealt with vandalisms and threats to their facilities since the leak, told the Daily Caller News Foundation it’s been a year marked by increased hostility that has forced them to spend valuable funds on security as federal law enforcement largely remains distant.

Pregnancy centers, which provide a variety of free services to women facing unplanned pregnancies, have been targeted by left-wing activists and Democrats, who call them “fake clinics” and claim they deceive and mislead women seeking abortions. The centers say their mission has been complicated by heightened safety concerns.

“You would not have thought that pregnancy centers that exist to provide free help to pregnant women would be systematic targets of violence,” Becky Sheetz, CEO of Life First, which operates pregnancy centers in Woodbridge and Manassas, Virginia, told the DCNF.

‘We’re not going to waver’

Life First has spent tens of thousands of dollars on security between its two centers, according to Sheetz. The organization’s Manassas facility was vandalized in May 2022.

Janet Durig, director of the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington, D.C., told the DCNF that the center has spent close to $160,000 on security guards, cameras, sound detectors and more since the center was vandalized last June.

CompassCare, which operates three centers in New York, had its Buffalo location firebombed last June, costing $400,000 between new security and repairs, according to WIVB. The same center was vandalized on March 16, 2023.

Rev. Jim Harden, CEO, told the DCNF his family has been doxxed and has “experienced a significant amount of anxiety.”

In Minnesota, the New Life Family Services’ brand new center in the Phillips community of Minneapolis — which Executive Director Tammy Kocher says has been a “decade-long dream” to open — was vandalized in March 2023. In many cases, threats are spurred on by antagonistic politicians.

After Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a consumer alert warning against pregnancy centers last August, Kocher said the community around their new clinic was plastered with “threatening posters” saying “if abortions aren’t safe, neither are you.”

“When threats and stuff like this happens, the people who it really hurts are our clients. Single moms. Families who are struggling to make ends meet. Young women who are being pressured into an abortion,” Kocher said. “We’re not going to waver, but it certainly has taken a toll.”

Kocher testified on the violence against pro-life organizations at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in May.

‘The FBI never even talked to us’

Multiple center directors echoed a similar sentiment: if people took the time to understand the care they provide women, they wouldn’t be so opposed.

Durig invites university students who periodically show up to protest outside her center to come inside for a tour. Nobody ever took her up on the offer, until a few months ago, when two young women finally did. “They haven’t been back since they have taken that tour,” she told the DCNF.

The attacks have largely garnered sympathy from local communities. They’ve bolstered donations and “galvanized” the pro-life support base, Harden said. Local police have been proactive in helping after attacks, earning the praise of multiple directors.

But the federal government?

“The FBI has never even talked to us,” Durig said. While she said Homeland Security did reach out before their December 2022 banquet to warn about protestors, many centers have heard only crickets from federal law enforcement.

“The FBI did an investigation,” Kocher said. “To my knowledge, nobody has been identified. But they were very nice.”

“They are slow walking it,” Harden said of the investigation into his center’s firebombing, noting the FBI let all its leads go cold. “Worse, they actually seemed to turn their investigative and arresting power on pro-life people, according to the whistleblowers coming out of the FBI.”

CompassCare hired its own private investigators to find the person responsible for the firebombing in January.

‘We are busier’

Beyond the general hostility, specific challenges and opportunities have varied by region. In North Carolina and Minnesota, which have both become abortion “destination” states, directors described adapting their marketing.

“Since [North Carolina] has become an abortion destination state, we have tweaked our marketing efforts to better attract women crossing state lines,” said Kristi Brown, executive director of Mountain Area Pregnancy Services (MAPS) in Asheville.

Still, most centers are seeing stable or higher client numbers. Brown said total clients are up 38%, with pregnancy tests up 25% and ultrasounds up by 75%.

“We are busier in 2023 compared to 2022,” she said.

“Our numbers since the overturn have been pretty consistent with the numbers for the calendar year prior,” Sheetz told the DCNF. “Considering the coordinated national campaign to hurt us by violence and integrated lies throughout media, stable numbers is a positive.”

Harden worries that censorship from Google and Yelp has suppressed his center’s numbers, when they should have been increasing after the introduction of new services.

Twenty-one Democratic members of Congress wrote to Google in June 2022, asking it to “take action to prevent anti-abortion fake clinics from appearing in search results.” Yelp announced in August 2022 that it would flag crisis pregnancy centers with a consumer notice and suppress them in its search results. Shortly after, Google promised to list only “verified” facilities on Google Maps when people search for abortion clinics.

Both did so in spite of 17 state attorneys general that threatened antitrust investigations if the companies censored pro-life centers.

“Our patient load is going up steadily, but it’s been a struggle,” Harden said. “There is a concerted effort to demonize and censor the work of pro-life pregnancy centers from certain politicians.”

Nevertheless, Harden said they will continue doing what they always have been: “raising the truth that all people are made in the image of God and therefore equally valuable, both mother and child.”

“No matter what people do or want to do to get us to stop, we won’t stop until God tells us to,” he said.


Katelynn Richardson