Following the leaked draft decision from the Supreme Court suggesting Roe v. Wade could soon be overturned, pro-abortion activists have become increasingly aggressive as they protest.
In addition to demonstrating in front of the high court justices’ homes, some protesters have taken things a step further and begun to physically attack pro-life organizations at their places of operation.
Lois Anderson, executive director at Oregon Right to Life, and Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, both experienced attacks on their organizations.
“We’ve always felt very safe there. It’s a community that’s just right next to our state Capitol, but we’ve been in that building for more than two decades and never even had so much as a protest,” said Anderson. “We’ve been quietly doing our work in that building, and it really was jarring.”
They share their stories about how pro-abortion extremists attacked their facilities.
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Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Doug Blair: My guest today is Lois Anderson, executive director at Oregon Right to Life. Lois, welcome to the show.
Lois Anderson: I’m happy to be here, although it’s not a very good subject, but I’m happy to have the opportunity to speak to you.
Blair: Absolutely. And as much as I wish I could say I was talking to a fellow Oregonian on a good note, that is not the case. So your offices were attacked, seemingly by pro-abortion activists. Can you tell us exactly what happened?
Anderson: Sure. Late in the evening on Mother’s Day, May 8, a person with two, what the police describe as Molotov cocktails, lit them and threw them at the building. That’s what we knew initially. Thankfully, there was a witness who called 911, saw the fire—one of the Molotov cocktails did explode and start a fire. Our fire department responded very, very quickly and extinguished the fire, minimizing the damage.
What we found out after talking to the police in their investigation, they called out an arson investigator, took it very seriously. There was evidence that this person, before they lit the Molotov cocktails, was trying to break our windows with the intent, assuming the intent that they were going to throw them inside the building to do more damage.
So, we were grateful for the witness and for the quick response from our first responders. Otherwise it would’ve been much worse.
Blair: That’s just a horrible story. I’m glad that more damage wasn’t done. How did you feel when you walked into the building the first time after the damage had been done?
Anderson: Well, it was still very smoky and it just felt, honestly, still unsafe. We’ve always felt very safe there. It’s a community that’s just right next to our state capital, but we’ve been in that building for more than two decades and never even had so much as a protest. We’ve been quietly doing our work in that building and it really was jarring.
Blair: Absolutely. Now, that’s an important point to note. This wasn’t Portland. As many of our listeners will recognize Portland is the poster child for a lot of this type of leftist pro-abortion violence. This is Keizer, Oregon, which is not anywhere near Portland. Is this the first time something has happened like this? I know that you said that this is more of a smaller town. Is this the first time, though, anybody has done something to your building?
Anderson: Yes, absolutely. And actually, it’s the first time anything like this has happened in the city. It’s just a very quiet, hardworking city. So it’s shocking for everybody, even folks that aren’t necessarily involved with our office and our movement.
Blair: Do you have any indication of who did this? Are the police aware of who might have done this?
Anderson: Not to our knowledge. There was no graffiti, and we don’t know whether that was part of the plan or whether they were scared off by the fact that there was a witness. But the police are taking it very seriously. Actually, yesterday, they released photographs of a car that they believe was involved in the attack and they’ve been canvasing the neighborhood. We’re just really grateful for how serious they’re taking it.
Blair: Absolutely. Have you received any support from city officials? Has the mayor or any of the people in charge at City Hall said anything about this?
Anderson: Yes. The mayor and the fire chief both have expressed both their support and their shock, and the police detective has just been amazing, honestly, keeping us informed. And again, I know I keep saying it, but I think that there’s been so much publicity about crimes like this, political violence not being taken seriously around the country and especially in Oregon, but that’s not the case in this situation, and I’m really thankful for it.
Blair: How about the community? Have members of the community come out and said things like, “How could this happen?” or have they expressed support for you, what you’re doing?
Anderson: I mean, community at large, yes. Actually, one of the news reporters that covered it, one of our local news canvased the neighborhood and interviewed our neighbor behind us. And she was great. She was just like, “This is wrong and I hope they catch the person.”
But we’ve actually had an outpouring of support from around the country. We’ve had people give us small donations, send us emails. Our supporters and advocates have been emailing and calling. So it’s been gratifying in that way that we’ve received a lot of support.
Blair: That’s so wonderful that people are coming together to support this because I think on an opposite note, Oregon is not the only state where these types of centers have been attacked as well. There was a very famous example that just came out of Wisconsin. Have you been in coordination with some of your partners in other states about what is happening?
Anderson: We have been discussing it, and just some of the focus has been more on security measures. What kinds of updates are advisable? It’s much more focused, I think, on the practical, because for us, I mean, the most important thing is for us to carry on our work. We’re speaking out for a very vulnerable population that literally do not have a voice to speak for themselves, so our focus is on whatever we can do to assure that our staff feel safe so that we can continue the work that we’re doing.
Blair: Absolutely. Now, I assume your work has probably changed slightly in the updated news that we’re looking at maybe an overturn of Roe v. Wade. How has that impacted the work that you’ve been doing on the ground in Oregon?
Anderson: Well, I mean, in Oregon, we don’t have any protective legislation for unborn children. We have some of the most extreme abortion policies in the country. So, we’re starting from the beginning if the decision comes down, as we’re all hoping that it will, and overturns Roe. So our energy really is focused on electing pro-life officials so that we can pass laws.
But even while we’re doing that, because we don’t know how long that will take—we’ve been trying to do that for 50 years as an organization—we are really focusing on taking our wonderful pro-life advocates who are passionate about saving the unborn and helping them focus in their communities and working even more with our local pregnancy centers, our maternity homes, plugging into churches that are providing resources for women.
We do anticipate that there will be abortion-minded women and families coming to Oregon from other states to seek abortions and we want to make sure that we’re ready to provide them with resources and alternatives just as much as we have been our own Oregon residents.
Blair: I think that’s something important to note, that while we are waiting for that to happen, and especially in a place like Oregon that tends to be more friendly toward the pro-abortion crowd, what are some of the options that you can recommend for people who are maybe going through an unplanned pregnancy and want some resources and aid to get them through it?
Anderson: Well, we have more than 20 pregnancy resource centers around the state, and those centers are going to provide not only pregnancy tests to confirm pregnancy, but ultrasounds and then referrals to prenatal care, and also even things like after the baby is born, resources like diapers and formula and even mentors in parenting.
I think that in today’s society, where a lot of our families have broken down and maybe a woman doesn’t have a good role model and feels overwhelmed even by the prospect of being a mother and parenting, we have many of our pregnancy resource centers that are providing mentoring programs so that they’re not only having the practical, “here’s all the things that you need to care for your baby,” but, “we’ll help you as we’ll walk through this with you.”
They also help with housing, help with even sometimes fixing your car. I could go on and on the list. And anything that you feel like is a barrier to giving your child life and mothering is going to be provided by one of these many centers around our state.
Blair: That’s absolutely wonderful. One final question for you, Lois. How has what happened to the center, how has what happened to you with this attack by probably a pro-abortion individual, how has that impacted what you’re going to do? Does that change the messaging? Does that change how you proceed?
Anderson: No, it doesn’t. I think what it does is it motivates us even more, honestly. And as I’m looking around at my staff at our staff meeting on Tuesday morning, what I saw was determination and I saw dedication and the desire to put this behind us as much as we can and move forward with even more energy.
Blair: Wonderful. That was Lois Anderson, executive director at Oregon Right to Life. Lois, thank you so much for your time.
Anderson: Thank you. Appreciate it. Nice to meet you.
Blair: Nice to meet you as well.
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