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Crisis pregnancy center in Baton Rouge temporarily closes after vandalism

CrisisCenterVandalism_071222.jpg
Paul Braun
/
WRKF
The Women's New Life Clinic, a crisis pregnancy center in Baton Rouge that works to prevent women with unplanned pregnancies from getting abortions, was vandalized. July 12, 2022.

A Baton Rouge crisis pregnancy center temporarily closed Tuesday after it was vandalized overnight.

Lt. Don Coppola of the Baton Rouge Police Department said officers responded to a call at 6:30 a.m. regarding damage to the Women’s New Life Clinic. The facility’s exterior walls, windows and signage were covered with red spray-painted messages including "Abortion is a right" and "Fake Clinic,” as well as several references to the group Jane's Revenge.

Allison Millet, CEO of the Women’s New Life Clinic, said the graffiti was discovered at 6 a.m. when employees arrived at the facility and notified police shortly after.

“Any action of violence or vandalism is an unfortunate thing regardless of the ideology or anyone’s personal opinions or beliefs,” Millet said. “We are doing everything we can to increase our security measures to make sure that our clients know we are safe.”

The investigation into the incident is ongoing, Coppola said. An unmarked law enforcement vehicle idled in the facility’s parking lot Tuesday afternoon.

Sarah Zagorski, communications director for the anti-abortion rights group Louisiana Right to Life, said the vandalism was “disgusting”

“You know, regardless of your view on abortion, vandalism and destroying other people’s property is never the answer, especially for women who are oppressed, who need help, and this place offers help for those women,” Zagorski said.

The crisis pregnancy center offers counseling and other healthcare services to women with unplanned pregnancies with the specific intent of dissuading them from seeking abortion care. It is located next to the shuttered Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, the city’s only abortion clinic.

These centers also promote the medically unproven and potentially dangerous idea of medication abortion reversal. It does not offer contraceptives, but does provide some gynecological services through a nurse practitioner, according to its website.

The vandalism in Baton Rouge is part of a recent trend against anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in states, including Florida, Minnesota and Massachusetts. Some of those incidents included graffiti with the name “Jane’s Revenge”.

Jane's Revenge claims to be a militant abortion rights group responsible for vandalism and firebombing crisis pregnancy centers across the country.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has prompted the FBI to monitor violence on all sides of the abortion debate.

The vandalism and violence against crisis pregnancy centers also comes amid decades of violence directed at abortion clinics. Abortion clinics saw a rise in violence in 2021, according to the National Abortion Federation.

Protesters regularly camp outside abortion clinics — some try to convince women not to go inside, while others surveil abortion doctors or carry signs with their pictures and names.

Doctors working in anti-abortion states, including Louisiana, have often declined to speak publicly for fear of professional repercussions and for fear of their personal safety.

Anti-abortion activists have bombed abortion clinics and murdered abortion doctors in the past. Most recently, in 2009, abortion doctor George Tiller was shot and killed at his church in Wichita, Kansas.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.
Rosemary Westwood
Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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