The CEO of a pro-life pregnancy center that has reopened and announced plans to expand less than two months after it was damaged by activists in a firebombing is crediting “the generosity of the people of God” for allowing such a “miracle” to take place.
CompassCare in Amherst, New York, is one of many pro-life pregnancy centers that have been vandalized by pro-abortion activists following Politico’s publication of a leaked draft opinion in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, indicating that the justices were poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
While vandalisms have continued after the Dobbs decision was released on June 24, the firebombing of CompassCare’s Amherst office took place two weeks before the Dobbs ruling.
On June 7, CompassCare announced in a blog post that its facility had been attacked: “Early this morning police and firefighters responded to smoke at CompassCare’s Buffalo office. The building was firebombed. The windows in the reception room and nurses’ office were broken and fires lit. Graffiti on the building left by arsonists refers to the abortion terrorist group Jane’s Revenge, reading ‘Jane Was Here.’”
Jane’s Revenge is a group of pro-abortion activists that took credit for the firebombing of Wisconsin Family Action, another pro-life advocacy organization. It demanded that all pro-life organizations disband within 30 days. In a June 14 communique declaring “open season” on pro-life groups for refusing to shut down, Jane’s Revenge listed “Buffalo, NY” as one of many acts of vandalism it had carried out in recent weeks. Amherst is located in the vicinity of Buffalo, meaning that it was likely taking credit for the attack on CompassCare.
At a grand reopening ceremony Monday, Harden announced that “this office was rebuilt in 52 days.” He also noted that “we didn’t shut down for a single day” but rather “we rerouted, relocated patients to our Rochester facility the day of the firebombing, and the day after the firebombing we had three offers to move into an alternate location.”
“We were up and running the very next day in an alternate location,” he recalled, identifying CompassCare as “a Christ-centered agency dedicated to empowering women to erase the need for abortion by transforming their fear into confidence because everyone is made in the image of God.”
In an interview with The Christian Post, Harden attributed the swift reopening of CompassCare to “the generosity of the people of God.” He told CP that “we had an outpouring of generosity when the people of God started hearing about this,” expressing gratitude that “they had a mind to work and a mind to give of their time and of their money and of their material resources.”
“With supply chain issues and material shortages and labor shortages, rebuilding a catastrophically damaged, firebombed facility in 52 days was nothing short of a miracle,” he said. “It really is humbling to be part of a fantastic group of people in Buffalo and throughout New York state.”
Harden stressed that CompassCare’s Amherst location suffered “catastrophic damage” from the firebombing.
“We had to replace all the windows, all the doors, the entire ceiling, all the flooring, many walls had to be redone," he said. Describing the damaged building as “totally unusable,” he lamented that “we had to gut it.”
CompassCare has served women facing unplanned pregnancies at its Amherst location since 2019 when it purchased the facility from a retiring physician. CompassCare also has locations in Rochester and Albany, two of the largest cities in Upstate New York.
While the firebombing undoubtedly caused CompassCare hardship, Harden elaborated on the opportunities that have come about because of the vandalism: “Because of this firebombing, we’re able to engage ... additional partners to help us kind of realize our plans that we’ve been developing since 2018. We’ve got a global telehealth partner called Let’s Talk Interactive, they’re in 79 countries and 50 states.”
“And they said, ‘What can we do to help?’ They heard about the firebombing. And we said, ‘Well, we’re looking for a telehealth partner.’ And they said, ‘We’re in; what do you need?’ So with them, we’re going to be giving away to 650 pregnancy centers all across the country the 21st century telehealth tools so that these pregnancy centers can compete head-on with the abortion industry for the first time since 1973,” he added.
Harden predicted that the telehealth tools will end up “reaching and serving these women before they travel to places like New York to get their abortions and before they go online to get the dangerous chemical abortion drug sent to them in the mail.” He said telehealth appointments will be a major component of the new addition to CompassCare’s Amherst location.
“The groundbreaking is symbolic in some ways because not only will we be able to serve more patients in person due to the expected increase in volumes, but we’re also going to be able to serve women through telehealth, so we’re going to have telehealth nursing offices where our nurses will be able to shorten that window of service from ... 24 hours after the first positive home pregnancy test to like 24 minutes.”
In addition to Harden, Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., also spoke at the press conference to tout legislation she introduced titled the Pregnancy Resource Center Defense Act. “What it does is it increases penalties for attackers to these vitally important pregnancy centers all across our nation,” she said.
Specifically, the bill classifies attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers as felonies as opposed to misdemeanors, increases fines for such crimes from $10,000 to $25,000 and increases the mandatory minimum prison sentence for attacks involving arson from five years to seven years.
CompassCare has assembled a petition urging “President Biden and all governors and state political leaders take immediate action to protect peaceful pro-life pregnancy centers from violent abortion terrorists.” As of Wednesday, the petition had gathered 3,693 signatures.
Harden believes that the responses of both the New York government as well as the federal government to the violence against pro-life pregnancy centers and churches are not only inadequate but also inflame tensions that lead to further attacks.
“Six days after we were firebombed, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul came out, she signed a bill not investigating the arsonists but investigating the victims, pro-life pregnancy centers. And at the press conference for the signing of this bill, she referred to us as subhuman; she called us Neanderthals.”
He also slammed New York Attorney General Letitia James for writing “an open letter to Google mischaracterizing the work of pregnancy centers and demanding that Google wipe us off the maps so that women couldn’t find us.” He also cited the insistence from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., that “pregnancy centers are harming women and that we need to shut down” as part of “an all-out attack” on such organizations.
Harden declared that the hostility faced by organizations like his constitutes “not just a physical attack but a legislative attack and a PR attack as well as leveraging ... chief law enforcement officers and attorneys general to attack pro-life pregnancy centers.” He maintained, “We haven’t done anything wrong and the only thing we’ve done is provide ethical medical care and comprehensive community support to women in need for free without any state or federal money being invested in us.”
Additionally, Harden criticized the response of the Amherst Police Department to the firebombing of CompassCare. He read aloud a statement from the law enforcement agency at Monday’s press conference, which read: “The Amherst Police Department is working diligently and are in collaboration with the FBI and other federal agencies in bringing this case to a resolve.”
The Police Department stressed, “There have already been multiple leads examined, we are continuing to follow up with those at this time,” adding: “The Amherst Police Department is still asking the public to provide any information they have with regards to this case.”
Harden said, “Their statement basically was three sentences; they did not identify this as an arson attack. If I were Jane’s Revenge, that’s exactly the kind of police statement I’d want to hear.”
“What’s happened here is multiple attacks all across the country, firebombing, domestic terrorists taking responsibility and we’ve got crickets from law enforcement. How should I construe that? How should we as citizens of America construe what law enforcement is actually doing here?” he asked.
In June, multiple media sources reported that the FBI opened an investigation into the attacks, but pro-lifers remain dissatisfied with the federal government’s response thus far.
The CompassCare CEO, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who now works full-time for the network of pro-life pregnancy centers, vowed that the firebombing and the threat of further violence would not deter his company from carrying out its mission.
“We’re just not going to cower in fear to bully tactics," he said. "God is our protector, God is our provider and our job is to fear Him and to fear Him alone. So we’re not going to take revenge on Jane’s Revenge. We’re going to repay evil for good, and we’re going to endure the fire as we have by God’s grace.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org