Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CPC Destroyed in Arson Fire

Pregnancy Alternatives Center, a CPC located in Lebanon, Oregon faced total loss due to an arson fire.
Catholic Sentinel
Torched Pregnancy Aid Center Scrapping to Get Back to Serve

LEBANON — ...Tracy and volunteers have made themselves forgive whoever ruined their building, which was in the process of being renovated and expanded. Otherwise, they say, they’d be paralyzed by bitterness.
Tracy does not want girls to be scared off by the fire or the resulting talk about the struggle between pro-life and pro-choice forces. That’s why the attack is so painful — the center aims to be a place of welcome and service, not a political agent.
“The center really showers God’s love on these girls,” says a shocked Chris Barreto, a member of St. Edward’s who volunteers. “This came as a surprise out of the blue.”
The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the arson.
“We’re looking at whether the arsonists believed that the clinic provided abortion services, which it did not,” FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “We’re looking at the possibility that they believed the clinic counseled against abortions, which it did. And we’re looking at any reason that we may not have come up with yet.”
Letter-writers to the Albany Democrat Herald newsaper said that the intentional fire should be labeled a hate crime.
In the past few years, advocates of abortion rights have criticized pro-life pregnancy centers and made legislative attacks via bills that would regulate what the centers can say and do.
The center does tell women about the medical and mental health risks thought to be associated with an abortion such as the link between abortion and breast cancer, and mental health problems like depression.
The center had been on the same location for 19 years with no incident. This spring, it expanded to include a clinic with pregnancy tests and ultrasounds given by volunteer physicians and nurses.
Volunteers offer confidential counseling, emergency housing, prenatal vitamins and nutrition guidance and pre-natal care and education. After the baby comes, the center provides ongoing counseling, life skills classes, baby clothing and gear, car seats, fathers’ counseling and adoption information.
Last year, the clinic had 1,200 visits by clients.
The fire wrought heavy damage to the attic and roof of the building, in the downtown area of this small town, 20 miles east of Oregon State University. No one was injured in the early-morning blaze.
Leaders say the clinic will be rebuilt. There is insurance, but it is questionable whether it will cover all the need, including replacement of heating and ventilation systems. The center gets no government funding.
Classes and housing efforts will continue, but clinic operations are suspended while Tracy searches for someone who will offer a temporary location. The center has about 50 volunteers from local churches, about six of them from St. Edward’s.
Attacks on pro-life pregnancy aid centers are common, though few are as destructive as the event in Lebanon.
Bomb threats were called in to a California pregnancy center and others were vandalized in 1999. A Canadian center in Winnipeg was covered with graffiti in 2001. In 2004, two Maryland pregnancy centers were vandalized, with smashed windows and computers. In 2005, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, another Maryland center was hit with smashed windows and graffiti that said “Choice” and “Womyn Haters.” When a ban on abortions was debated in South Dakota in 2006, vandals hit the homes of pregnancy center heads with eggs, threatening phone calls and the bodies of decomposing animals.
Terry Weaver, executive director of Birthright, recalls bomb threats at the organization’s Atlanta house. She hears about vandalism regularly from Birthright houses around the country — splattered paint, shot-out windows, dog feces in mailboxes. Sometimes, pro-choice zealots call the Birthright hotline to heckle the organization.
“It happens from coast to coast,” Weaver says.


Albany Democrat Herald
Pregnancy Center Will Have to Be Torn Down
LEBANON — The building which housed the Pregnancy Alternatives Center will have to be torn down, Executive Director Debbie Tracy said Thursday.

The Sept. 10 arson fire that burned much of the building’s interior has left the structure virtually unusable.

The FBI announced Thursday a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the fire.

Tracy said workers have spent the last week salvaging what they could from the charred remains, but not much is usable.

Insurance agents inspected the building and called it a total loss, she said.

No date is set for the demolition.

Tracy said she is working on alternate plans for the center and hopes to have something concrete in the coming weeks.

The center has hired a web designer to update the center’s website,, with new information or anything the center needs from volunteers.

The FBI is asking anyone with information to call its Eugene bureau at (541) 343-5222 during normal business hours, its Portland bureau at (503) 224-4181 any time, or the Lebanon Police Department at 258-4319.

The FBI says it is investigating the fire jointly with the Lebanon Police Department and has authority to do so under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

Investigators do not know the motive behind the fire. They are looking at all possibilities, including whether the arsonists set the fire because they falsely believed the clinic provides abortion services; or because they knew the clinic counsels against abortions; or some other as yet undetermined reason.

The nonprofit center had been at the location for 19 years, providing free services to help women through unplanned pregnancies without getting an abortion.
Could you imagine the public outcry had the arson fire been in an abortion facility instead of one that offers women abortion alternatives and hope and help?

All the major media outlets would be featuring major articles featuring quotes from abortion rights activists, pointing fingers and blaming prolifers and the blogsphere would be afire in outrage. There would have been cries of outrage along with speculation and finger-pointing and cries that we need more "protection" for those who preform abortions.

But it was a CPC. A place that enables women to choose to carry to term and make healthy choices. Although pro-life in idealogy, they're not politically active, however being pro-life makes the fire a non-story. Sadly I would not be surprised if pro-choicers are secretly smiling at the thought of one less CPC...

H/T to Christina at Real Choice

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