Opponents of abortion in Connecticut worried Thursday about the potential for violence against pregnancy crisis centers if the U.S. Supreme Court follows through with its expected reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision that has long made abortion legal nationwide.
State law ensures that abortion will continue to remain legal in Connecticut regardless of the outcome of the Dobbs v. Jackson case, in which the high court is expected to overturn Roe in the coming days.
However, during a morning press conference outside the state Capitol, members of the Connecticut Catholic Conference, Family Institute of Connecticut and operators of pregnancy crisis centers called on state leaders to condemn potential violence inspired by the court’s expected action. They pointed to recent reports of vandalism and arson on pregnancy centers in states like New York and Texas. To date, there has been no such violence in Connecticut.
During the event, Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute, suggested local elected officials and media had little interest in addressing threats directed at anti-abortion activists and organizations.
“We call upon our elected officials here in the state of Connecticut in both parties to denounce this. We call upon our opponents in the abortion debate to denounce this,” Wolfgang said. “We’ve seen very little of that. It concerns us greatly.”
“Can you imagine if instead of us it was a pro-choice group being threatened with violence nationally, across the country? or a pro LGBT group?” Wolfgang said. “This would be a much bigger story.”
The groups largely responded to reports of an alleged pro-choice militant group known as Jane’s Revenge, which has been linked to vandalism, threats and fires in other states. According to a Saturday report in The Guardian, no one has been injured in the incidents which have largely been directed at pregnancy crisis centers. The centers are often religious-affiliated non-profit organizations which steer women in crisis away from abortions.
Following the event, the executive director of one such nonprofit in Connecticut said she had recently received threatening communications from an anonymous person. Adrienne Greto, whose organization Hopeline runs centers in Bridgeport, Danbury and Stamford, reported being the subject of a threatening text sent to the center’s text line.
“This person described me physically. They know who I am,” Greto said. “They said they were after me and ‘I got your pregnancy center.’ Like, ‘I know who you are. I know where you are.’”
Greto said she reported the incident to police and believed the Stamford Department was investigating. Stamford police did not immediately return a call for comment.
Reached by phone, Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the legislature’s reproductive rights caucus, condemned violence against pregnancy centers and any other providers in the state. She also said she did not expect it would be an issue in Connecticut.
“I do think they’re making an issue out of nothing at this point in time,” Gilchrest said of the Thursday press conference. “That’s unfortunate when we are anticipating that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. It’s unfortunate they would attempt to frame those who support our right to access abortion as dangerous when what we’re looking to do is ensure that individuals in the state of Connecticut can access reproductive health care.”
Nancy DiNardo, chair of the Connecticut Democratic Party, issued a statement reacting to the press conference which referenced some of the acts of violence perpetrated against reproductive health care providers over the years.
“This newfound concern about violence is the height of hypocrisy coming from the people who have created gauntlets outside of abortion clinics to heckle and threaten women for the past 50 years. Anti-abortion forces have bombed, vandalized and burned abortion clinics across the country, invaded clinics to threaten providers, and murdered doctors in their homes and churches,” DiNardo said. “The anti-abortion zealots need to look in the mirror and ask themselves who has repeatedly used violence in their effort to strip Americans of their Constitutional right to an abortion.”
During the Capitol news conference, Chris Healy, executive director of the Catholic Public Affairs Conference, said that violence perpetrated by abortion opponents should also be condemned.
“Years ago there have been attacks on abortion clinics by radicals who’ve firebombed them and caused violence. That was wrong. That was evil,” Healy said. “We are against that as well and we expect the same sort of support for our institutions as well to be free of violence — intimidation as well… We need to bring the temperature down and have a civil discussion.”
Gilchrest said she appreciated the recognition in Healy’s comments but called them “too little, too late.”
“It’s ironic that these individuals would speak out today rather than over the years as this violence has been perpetrated throughout this country in terms of bombings and murdering abortion care providers,” Gilchrest said.