As the nation awaits a decision on whether the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants threats to anti-abortion pregnancy resource centers investigated swiftly.
Neither Yost, through a spokeswoman, nor Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said they were aware of any recent violence against pregnancy centers in Ohio. However, the FBI is investigating a series of attacks and threats on anti-abortion pregnancy resource centers across the country.
"In America, we solve our differences with debates and ballots, not with bricks and Molotov cocktails," Yost, a Republican, wrote in a letter signed by 18 others, including Kentucky's Daniel Cameron, to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. "Political violence - no matter the cause, and no matter the perpetrator - must be punished, and harshly."
In May, a far-left extremist group called Jane's Revenge claimed responsibility for throwing two Molotov cocktails into a Wisconsin anti-abortion lobbying group's office. No one was injured. The group also took credit for damage to a Des Moines pregnancy center in early June.
"The FBI takes all threats seriously and we continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and will remain vigilant to protect our communities," according to the FBI's Office of Public Affairs, adding that anyone who observes suspicious activity should call their local FBI field office or submit a tip to tips.fbi.gov.
In January 2021, four people were charged with disrupting a Respect Life Mass at Saint Joseph's Cathedral in downtown Columbus. They were later convicted in state court of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor.
In Ohio, taxpayers contribute to these pregnancy resource centers, which oppose abortion and support alternatives like adoption or raising the child. Opponents criticize the centers for posing as clinics to trick those seeking the procedure.
Gov. Mike DeWine doled out $1.5 million to these organizations shortly before the May primary. They also received $6 million in the state's two-year budget.
The FBI has investigated threats against abortion providers. Last October, James David Hampton, of London, Ohio, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for threatening members of the Abortion Support Network, a nonprofit that helps people obtain abortions.
"I take great pride in hunting scum like you and killing you," Hampton wrote online, along with vivid details of violence.
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Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Ahead of Roe v. Wade decision, FBI probes anti-abortion center threats