Pregnancy center spent up to $150K to bolster security amid increasing vandalism, director says
A pro-life pregnancy center director testified before Congress this week that her clinic has spent up to $150,000 to improve security measures as similar pro-life clinics across the country have been vandalized.
Heidi Matzke, the executive director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, California, spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a Tuesday hearing titled "A Post-Roe America: The Legal Consequences of the Dobbs Decision."
"Pregnancy care centers from coast to coast are being targeted for violent assaults of vandalism and hateful attacks online and in the media," Matzke said. "Just last week, a man approached our care center with an armed machete. We have been forced to hire 24-hour on-site security. We've had to reinforce doors and bulletproof our walls."
"We've had to paint our building with anti-graffiti coating," she added. "We've added cameras, armed our staff with pepper spray, and stopped running our mobile clinic because of threats of violence."
Matzke contends that the measures have protected the center from at least two attacks.
"We've had to spend ... valuable resources for women of up to $150,000 just to protect ourselves," she said. "Why? Because we offer free care to women."
She still believes that her center's work is "worth the risk."
Security cameras captured the footage of the man who went to the center with a Machete on July 8. Matzke said she was not there at the time.
"By God's grace, our security guy came around the corner and saw him and they exchanged words and then he ran off," she told the Catholic News Agency. "Fortunately, no damage was done, and, at this point, everyone is safe."
In another incident, Matzke said a woman attempted to hijack the center's mobile clinic. However, she was stopped by on-site security.
"Our nurse was in the back serving a patient and our mobile clinic has to be on — and air conditioning running — in order to operate effectively," Matzke told CNA. "A woman basically tried to get in the front seat and take off with it."
The Alternatives Pregnancy Center provides more than $1 million in free medical and material assistance to women every year, according to Matzke. In addition to ultrasounds and community referrals, the center provides prenatal and gynecological care.
"We charge them nothing," she assured lawmakers. "That means we never financially benefit from any choice a woman makes. We make no profit of any kind off the women who turn to us for help. We offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and prenatal care up to 24 weeks. ... We test and treat sexually transmitted diseases. We offer abortion pill reversal services, abortion recovery counseling and parenting classes."
"If finances are a problem, we have diapers, wipes, baby formula, baby food, baby clothing, baby supplies," she continued. "If a woman needs a hotel room, we provide that as well. We pay for all of that."
Matzke said all the organization's services are provided by licensed medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and medical assistants.
"Our OB/GYN doctor was an abortionist," she said.
Even the local Planned Parenthood refers women to Matzke's center if a woman intends to keep her baby, the executive director claimed in her testimony.
Matzke said her organization helps women regardless of "who she is, where she comes from, or what her past is" because "life is a human right, and we need to protect that life."
"When a woman comes in so afraid what an unplanned pregnancy will mean for her life, her ambitions, her relationships, we do not urge her at that moment to make any decisions," Matzke told lawmakers. "Whether she chooses parenting, adoption or abortion, we will continue to be there for her for years if necessary."
Last month, the FBI announced it is investigating the recent attacks and vandalism of pro-life pregnancy centers as potential acts of domestic violence or extremism.
Many pregnancy centers throughout the country have been vandalized since a leaked draft opinion in May showing the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion a national right.The attacks continued after the court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization overturned Roe.
Clearway Clinic, a pro-life pregnancy center in Worcester, Massachusetts, posted on its blog on July 7 that it had been vandalized in the early morning hours.
According to the clinic, the vandals smashed two glass doors, three windows and spray-painted "Jane's Revenge" on the sidewalk in front of the facility.
Jane's Revenge is an abortion activist group that has claimed responsibility for multiple acts of vandalism against pro-life pregnancy centers and churches. The group took credit for the attack on the Clearway Clinic in a July 8 blog post on the anarchist website Abolition Media.
In a Facebook post from July 6, Birthright St. Paul in Minnesota announced that it had been vandalized with graffiti that read "Abort America" and "Blood on your hands."
Another Facebook post showed additional vandalism on the building, including spray-painted statements declaring "If abortions aren't safe, neither are you" and "Jesus loves abortion."
The Minnesota-based pregnancy center asked for donations to cover the cost of "the professional clean-up efforts of Birthright St. Paul's siding, brick, windows, door and signage due to vandals' destruction."
In her testimony, Matzke claimed that a "great deal of misinformation has been spread" about what pro-life pregnancy centers do.
"Our clinic is one of 3,000 pregnancy care centers across America," Matzke stressed. "Each year, hundreds of thousands come to our clinics looking for free medical care, emotional support and practical resources that will enable them to carry their pregnancies to term."