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Michigan anti-abortion groups on alert for violence following court ruling

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The Michigan Catholic Conference called for peace and civility following the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Shutterstock)

The seven dioceses of the Michigan Catholic Church have been made aware by federal authorities of potential violence and protests across the state in the wake of the United States Supreme Court ruling that abortion is not a federally-protected right, David Maluchnik, the vice president of communications for the Michigan Catholic Conference, told Bridge Michigan Friday. 

“Federal authorities have indicated to organizations across the state that there could be disruptions or other activity that is either violent in nature or efforts to vandalize property to maintain awareness that there's the possibility for disruptions or violence or vandalism,” Maluchnik said.

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Last week, the FBI said in a statement that they are expecting an increase in crimes against pregnancy resource centers, which provide pregnancy services but discourage abortion, and faith-based organizations across the country and are already investigating some incidents of vandalism and threats of violence.

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In Michigan, Republican U.S Rep. Tim Walberg’s office building and an anti-abortion group were vandalized allegedly by a pro-abortion group called Jane’s Revenge in Jackson late Tuesday evening. A Dearborn Heights pregnancy center,  Lennon Pregnancy Center, was also vandalized with pro-choice messages on the same night. The Catholic Conference also said in a press release asking for peace that the Pregnancy Care Center in Redford was vandalized the same night as the other incidents. 

“The recent threats of violence and acts of destruction and terror must end,” Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO David Long said in a statement Wednesday. “We are calling for local and state authorities to be attentive to these threats and to ensure all people remain safe and protected. We also encourage elected officials to condemn specifically and discourage violent acts, as officials on both sides of the aisle have a role to play and should be mindful of how their words and comments can lead either to peace or violence.”

The Supreme Court ruled by a 6-3 margin Friday morning that abortion was not a federally protected right, giving the power to state legislatures to decide if abortion is legal. Without Roe, a Michigan law from 1931 would ban abortion in most cases, but a state court recently issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of that law. The case is expected to be argued before the Michigan Supreme Court.

A draft of the Supreme Court’s decision was obtained a month ago by Politico. Since the leak, there have been numerous incidents of threats of violence, vandalism and protests against anti-abortion supporters, prompting the church and other anti-abortion groups to ask for increased awareness of potential issues from state and local law enforcement and elected officials.

With the Supreme Court decision, anti-abortion groups are concerned they could be the subject of violence similar to what abortion providers have faced since abortion was legalized in 1973. As of 2015, there had been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons targeting abortion clinics and providers in the U.S. In 2021, vandalism and assaults against abortion clinics, patients and employees rose 128 percent from 2020. 

“The Catholic community in Michigan is calling for peace and civility ahead of and following the Dobbs decision,” Long said in his Wednesday statement. “State and local authorities should be on alert and ready to protect individuals and property should violence or acts of terror occur before and following release of the Dobbs ruling. We believe it is possible that extremist or incendiary responses from lawmakers or advocacy groups to a decision that overturns Roe will only incite violence and destruction, perhaps even the loss of life.”

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