The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Christopher Wray, recently testified that around 70% of the bureau’s abortion-related threat or violence cases after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade had been perpetrated on anti-abortion victims.
Wray insisted to the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the FBI is taking investigations into attacks on anti-abortion groups seriously.
“We have quite a number of investigations, as we speak, into attacks or threats against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and other pro-life organizations,” said Wray. “And you might be interested to know that since the Dobbs decision, probably in the neighborhood of 70% of our abortion-related violence cases or threat cases are cases of violence or threats against pro-life, where the victims are pro-life organizations.”
Since the leak in May of the draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion, which overturned Roe v. Wade, there have been increasing threats against anti-abortion advocates and Supreme Court justices, including vandalism and attacks targeting pregnancy centers, churches across the U.S. and anti-abortion activist groups.
Wray’s testimony comes amid criticism from anti-abortion groups and Republicans that the Justice Department is not doing enough about the attacks. Conservative and GOP activists allege there is a double standard regarding how the Justice Department is deploying the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act laxly against pro-abortion groups while vigorously using it against anti-abortion groups.
Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott told Wray that “it appears that DOJ have become politicized with regard to pro-life things” as he noted “a recent rise in high-profile FBI investigations of pro-life Americans.” Scott continued saying it “raises the concern” that the FBI is “weaponizing” federal law enforcement.
Wray maintained that the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces is going after the perpetrators through the FACE Act and criminal authorities with more than 20 field offices involved.
“I firmly believe that the FBI is going about its work doing the right thing in the right way,” insisted Wray. “My view — plainly expressed to all of our people, including in the context of abortion-related violence — is that I don’t care what side of the issue you’re on, you don’t get to engage in violence. And we are equal opportunity when it comes to that.”
Conservative groups monitor incidents against pro-life groups
Catholic Vote, a conservative group, has a running tracker on alleged incidents against pro-life organizations and says that “at least 75 pregnancy resource centers and offices of pro-life groups have been attacked and vandalized” since the May leak of the draft SCOTUS decision.
Conservative Family Research Council pointed to “60 incidents related to pro-life organizations or pregnancy resource centers” as of the beginning of November, with dozens targeting other groups and churches.
According to the Justice Department, more than two dozen anti-abortion defendants have been charged with violations of the FACE Act so far this year. In contrast, there have not been any similar charges against pro-abortion offenders.
This summer, the FBI said it was “investigating a series of attacks and threats” targeting anti-abortion organizations across America. Wray testified previously that “I can tell you we have opened a number of domestic violent extremism investigations using our Joint Terrorism Task Forces that are specifically focused on attacks or threats against churches, pro-life organizations, pregnancy resource centers, similar types of organizations.”
Senate and House Republicans have repeatedly called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the vandalism and attacks targeting anti-abortion groups as acts of domestic terrorism.