FBI Director Christopher Wray has reaffirmed the bureau’s commitment to investigating crimes against pro-life groups and churches, reporting that they face about 70% of abortion-related threats since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.
“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,” Wray said at a Nov. 15 hearing of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, Fox News reports.
He spoke in response to Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, who questioned Wray about the FBI’s response to crimes against churches, pro-life pregnancy centers, and other pro-life organizations motivated by pro-abortion sentiment.
Wray said the FBI has “quite a number of investigations” into “attacks or threats against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and other pro-life organizations.”
The FBI director said that since the Dobbs decision in late June, “probably in the neighborhood of 70% of our abortion-related violence cases or threats cases are cases of violence or threats against … pro-life organizations.”
As of Sept. 22, CNA had recorded attacks on 33 churches, 55 pregnancy centers, three political organizations, and one maternity home since early May where the public evidence points to a pro-abortion motive. The crimes include vulgar graffiti, property damage, threats, theft, and even arson.
Peaceful protests, as well as crimes, followed the leak in May of a draft of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, which revealed that Roe v. Wade would be overturned and end a nationwide requirement that states allow legal abortion.
Wray told the Senate hearing that the bodies investigating crimes against pro-life churches and organizations bodies include “about 20 field offices,” he said, as well as joint terrorism task forces. He cited the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, known as the FACE Act, which since 1994 has barred the blocking of access to abortion clinics and places of worship. The Department of Justice has said the legislation also protects pro-life pregnancy centers.
“We take it very seriously,” Wray said. “And again, I don't care if you're motivated by pro-life views or pro-choice views. You don't get to use violence to express it,” he said.
Last month Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate asked why the FBI and the Department of Justice appear to be targeting pro-life people disproportionately under the FACE Act. They contrasted these actions with an apparent lack of investigations or Department of Justice prosecutions related to the rise in violence against pro-life individuals and institutions.
At the Nov. 15 hearing, Sen. Scott pressed Wray about whether the public thinks the FBI is more concerned about prosecuting pro-life advocates and not those who threatened him.
“We don't have the time for me to tell how frustrated I sometimes get by some of the news reporting about our work and the misreporting of our work,” he said. “The circumspection that we display with regard to discussing our investigations is based on rules and practices that are important to people having confidence in the integrity of our work and go back decades, multiple administrations.”
The Department of Justice continues to have a National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers. It was established in November 1998 after an abortionist was shot and killed in western New York.
According to the task force’s website, its functions appear to focus on investigating violence against abortion clinics and providers.