When staff at a Las Vegas pregnancy medical clinic arrived at work on Monday, July 24, they discovered graffiti spray-painted on the outside walls.
“The ladies that were opening the center for the day found it,” Jessica Ancell, logistic services specialist for First Choice Pregnancy Services, recently told Pregnancy Help News. “I happened to be on my way out of town when I got the call.”
The graffiti included the word "fraud," the letter "a" within being the anarchist symbol. There was also at least one lewd symbol.
Ancell stopped at the center, and while there, discovered the surveillance camera had stopped working. Executive director Deborah Costello later learned the system had overheated and shut itself down. If that had not happened, a fire likely would have broken out.
“It shut down Saturday night, and the vandalism happened Sunday night,” Costello said. “We had no [surveillance] video of the incident.”
“But we had a building – the building didn’t burn down,” Ancell stated.
Hoping to find a way to make up for the center’s security camera not working, Ancell decided to seek help from neighboring businesses.
“We remembered one of the companies across the street from us had a vandalism issue [several months ago], and they came over and asked if we had video coverage of it,” she said.
First Choice helped that business by providing what the center’s surveillance caught, and Ancell asked that company for a return favor.
“And they gave it [the video] to us,” she said.
That company’s camera caught two people spray painting the center’s exterior walls and provided the date and time of the attack.
First Choice had previously been harassed by abortion activists by phone and on social media, and weathered negative postings online. The center also reports being attacked with a pickaxe on New Year’s Day of 2022.
Costello said she expected more trouble last year. Now with a year since the Dobbs ruling and the pickaxe incident, abortion activists are still attacking with visible results.
“We stand out here as the pregnancy center for the measures and actions we take when we’re all in for these babies,” she said. “That kind of heightens the target on our back.”
Attacks on pro-life organizations
According to CatholicVote, nearly 90 pregnancy centers and pro-life organizations “have been attacked and vandalized since a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in early May 2022.”
That number includes at least a half-dozen in 2023 in states such as Iowa, Ohio, Florida, and Texas. At the time of this reporting, CatholicVote had not included First Choice’s most recent incident.
Tweet This: More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision abortion radicals are still attacking pregnancy help organizations.
Little apparent progress has been made in most of the cases, though the Justice Department has charged four people for attacks targeting pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida under the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act, which has been used against pro-life individuals for giving pro-life witness at abortion facilities.
In June, Rev. Jim Harden, executive director of CompassCare in New York, called investigations by the FBI of his twice-firebombed pregnancy help medical clinic in Buffalo “slow.” He also said the agency “let all of its leads grow cold.”
“Worse, they actually seemed to turn their investigative and arresting power on pro-life people, according to the whistleblowers coming out of the FBI,” Harden added.
His organization ended up hiring its own investigator and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on extra security measures. Other centers have doled out large funds as well for security, the article stated.
Life Choice had stepped up its security after last year’s widespread attacks on pregnancy help and pro-life organizations across the nation.
That included fortifying windows, Ancell said, as well as hiring armed security guards. A new door was also installed in the center’s lobby just a week before the July 23 vandalism, said Costello. Although a budget discussion with the board took place some time ago with a suggestion to cut down on security, Costello said she was adamant about not doing so.
“Then this happened,” she said. “Security and safety should never be taken lightly.”
After the graffiti was discovered, Life Choice’s Patient Services Director contacted the Las Vegas police department and gave a report over the phone. Costello wanted to see more action on the part of the authorities.
A volunteer encouraged Costello to contact the sheriff, who oversees the entire Las Vegas police department (a different hierarchy than many places). As the wife of a law enforcement officer, Costello had started a law enforcement wives’ group in 2009. Thus, she knew the sheriff well, she said. Costello took the volunteer’s advice and reached out to the sheriff by email.
She told him about First Choice, its services, and programs, and explained to him what happened.
“I told him we needed ‘boots on the ground,’ that it wasn’t just random graffiti, that it had an ‘A’ symbol, which is a sign of Jane’s Revenge stuff,” she said.
Costello received a call from a deputy chief who told her law enforcement officials would be on-site within 30 minutes. Officers and detectives showed up at Life Choice and examined the graffiti. They then contacted the agency’s counterterrorism department with photos and information, Costello said. The case currently remains with the counterterrorism office.
Most of the attacks against pregnancy centers, churches, and pro-life groups occurred last year, but as evidenced by Life Choice, the need for vigilance remains.
Both the U.S. House and Senate introduced legislation specifically to protect pro-life pregnancy centers. The Pregnancy Center Security Act is supported by officials such as Sens. Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz, Jim Risch, and Marco Rubio.
When announcing the measure, Crapo, R-Idaho, said:
“Expectant mothers should not fear for their safety when receiving medical assistance and counseling. Political extremists across the country have made it clear that they will continue to intimidate those who visit and work at these pregnancy centers as well as continue to carry out violent attacks. This bill would provide much-needed security upgrades to these centers in Idaho and across the country, providing safety and peace of mind to health care personnel and their patients.”
The graffiti did not remain on the center’s exterior walls for long. A man from a supportive church volunteered to paint over the writings after police began to investigate.
Costello and Ancell realize the attack could have been worse, given that pro-life centers and organizations have experienced fire bombings, ransacking, arson, and break-ins in addition to vandalism and graffiti. Because of security measures and safety protocols implemented in the wake of the Dobbs decision last year, the criminals could not penetrate the building.
“It’s unfortunate," Costello said, “but we’re fortunate that it wasn’t way worse.”
“We know there’s been a lot [worse] attacks on pregnancy centers across the nation,” she said. “So, we know we are very fortunate.”