AMHERST, New York — Police are investigating a fire at a pro-life reproductive health center early Tuesday as arson.
The fire was reported at about 3 a.m. and left the building temporarily unusable, CompassCare Chief Executive Jim Harden said.
“Essentially, they firebombed the operation,” Harden said. “They broke the two main windows in the reception area and the nurse’s office and lit the fires.”
The Amherst police news release announcing the investigation did not include a suspected motive. The FBI declined to comment on whether it was involved in the arson investigation.
Harden said someone scrawled “Jane was here” on the suburban Buffalo medical building, which he said referred to an abortion-rights group known as Jane’s Revenge.
“This is the face of abortion,” Harden said at a news conference. “They’re revealing it to us.”
Harden said the center provides free health care to women and encourages them to seek alternatives to abortion. The Buffalo office serves about 20 patients each week, he said.
Services will resume Wednesday at an undisclosed location, he said.
The Rochester-based organization has increased security at its Rochester and Albany locations, Harden said. On its website, the center said it and others like it have faced online and in-person threats in recent weeks following the leak of a draft opinion that suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.
The center alerted police and the FBI to concerns and had plans to install armored glass in the Buffalo office, it said.
Harden called on Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and lawmakers to condemn the violence. The state last month announced it would give abortion providers $35 million to expand services and boost security in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision. Hochul said the state needed to prepare for a potential influx of out-of-state patients seeking abortions from the roughly half of U.S. states that are expected to ban or greatly restrict abortion if Roe is overturned.
“We haven’t gotten a single dime for security,” Harden said.
In an emailed statement, Hochul’s office said the governor “condemns violence of any kind, and the State Police stand ready to assist local authorities with the investigation.”
Last month, the office of a prominent Wisconson pro-life lobby group was damaged by fire after two Molotov cocktails were thrown at it. The fire at the Wisconsin Family Action office came days after two Catholic churches in Colorado, including one known for its annual pro-life display, were vandalized. Police said a pro-life organization in Salem, Oregon, also recently was damaged by two Molotov cocktails during an unsuccessful break-in attempt.