FBI investigating abortion-related attacks in Oregon, nationwide

The bureau is looking into other attacks nationwide that appear to be part of “an intensification” of violence around abortion

By: - January 30, 2023 5:45 am
FBI agent

The FBI is investigating abortion related attacks in Oregon and across the country. (Getty Images)

The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for tips about three arsons in Oregon last summer against an anti-abortion group and centers. 

The attacks occurred between May and July in Portland, Gresham and Keizer. One attack targeted the Mother and Child Education Center in Portland. Another involved Molotov cocktails thrown at the Oregon Right to Life building in Keizer. And the third was against the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center, a Christian resource hub that’s anti-abortion. There are pregnancy resource centers nationwide that try to steer women away from having an abortion.

Besides the Oregon attacks, authorities are seeking information about seven other instances of arson and vandalism at reproductive health organizations in other states, including an anti-abortion political group in Wisconsin and a Planned Parenthood in California.

If you have a tip

The FBI asks anyone with information to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), to contact their local FBI office or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Tipsters can remain anonymous and are eligible to receive up to $25,000 for information that ultimately leads to a conviction of the suspect or suspects.

The attacks were part of “a general intensification of violence across the issue” of abortion last year, according to U.S. Senate testimony by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The FBI’s national office published a press release with information and surveillance photos about the 10 nationwide cases and is encouraging tips.

“Vandalism, arson, and threats of violence such as these should not, and cannot, be acceptable in our shared community,” FBI Special Agent Kieran Ramsey, who leads the bureau’s Portland division, said in a statement last week. “We are, therefore, asking the public to take a look at these photos and videos and if you recognize anything that could be helpful to our investigation, please reach out.”

Keizer police responded May 8 to 911 calls that someone had thrown multiple Molotov cocktails at the Oregon Right to Life headquarters, causing a small fire. According to the FBI, surveillance footage showed a person running from the building to a white car that may be a 2017 or 2018 Hyundai Elantra.

Oregon Right to Life opposes abortion except in “rare cases” to save the life of the mother or child, its website says. Its political action committee funds Republican candidates for office and conservative causes, including cutting Oregon’s broad protections for abortion.

Molotov cocktails were also thrown at the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center on June 10, the FBI says. The center is run by Christian organization First Image.

In Portland, the Mother and Child Education Center was vandalized and targeted for arson in June and again early July. The building was spray-painted with the words, “IF ABORTION AINT SAFE NEITHER RU JR” and “JANES RVVGG,” according to the FBI.

Maura White, executive director of Mother and Child, said a flare was shot through the nonprofit’s window and someone tried to burn the porch, scaring her staff.

White is in touch with the FBI, she said in an interview Tuesday. She said the bureau is “absolutely making progress” in the investigation and expected the reward will help identify suspects.

“That’s a huge reward,” she said.

One of the attacks against Mother and Child coincided with a June protest in Portland against the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. White told the Oregonian her nonprofit is not an anti-abortion pregnancy center but provides resources and helps people caring for young children.

A spokesperson for the Portland FBI division did not respond by Tuesday when asked whether Oregon’s arsons were part of a national pattern.

In August, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress that the court decision kicked off “a general intensification of violence” among abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists, Politico reported.

The Department of Justice announced a slew of prosecutions last year in connection with attacks on Planned Parenthood facilities and other reproductive health care centers. They included Devin Kruse, who pleaded guilty in September to throwing a concrete block through the window of a Planned Parenthood in Grants Pass in 2021.

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Grant Stringer
Grant Stringer

Grant Stringer is a freelance journalist in Oregon who writes for national newspapers like the Washington Post and outlets in the West, including the Capital Chronicle and the Oregonian/OregonLive. He specializes in features, solutions journalism and social policy stories.