RALEIGH — As the 118th Congress began operations last week, a House floor vote on a resolution condemning attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers saw all but three Democratic members vote “nay” on the measure. The vote was 222 to 208.
Every single Democratic member of North Carolina’s House congressional delegation voted no. Their Republican counterparts all voted yes.
North Carolina’s Democratic U.S. House congressional delegation includes Reps. Don Davis (NC-01), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Kathy Manning (NC-06), Alma Adams (NC-12), George “Wiley” Nickel (NC-13) and Jeff Jackson (NC-14).
Davis, Foushee, Jackson and Nickel are new to Congress having been elected in November 2022.
House Resolution 3 (H.R. 3) “condemns recent attacks of vandalism, violence, and destruction against pro-life facilities, groups, and churches,” as well as recognizing the “sanctity of life and the important role pro-life facilities, groups, and churches play in supporting pregnant women, infants, and families.”
The measure also calls on the Biden administration to use “all appropriate law enforcement authorities to uphold public safety and to protect the rights of pro-life facilities, groups, and churches.”
H.R. 3 contains a list of more than 30 attacks on such centers, including the attack on a crisis pregnancy center in North Carolina.
The attack occurred in Asheville on June 6, 2022, where “vandals broke windows and left graffiti on the Mountain Area Pregnancy Services building, including the messages, “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you”, “no forced birth”, and an anarchist symbol,” H.R. 3 states.
Republican Rep. Dan Bishop (NC-08) delivered remarks in support of the resolution.
“Attacks on churches and pro-life pregnancy centers are unconscionable and un-American,” Bishop said. “Thugs elevate their extreme political ideology over the most basic gift from God: Life. And this phenomenon is fed from here.”
Bishop went on to say that “all recall Sen. Chuck Schumer’s threat to Supreme Court justices, “You will pay the price.” Now we see the price – firebombing prolife pregnancy centers and assassination attempts.”
The Charlotte-area congressman went on to mention the Asheville attack where vandals wrote a threat in red spray paint that read “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you.”
Bishop compared the threat to the “violent intimidation” of the KKK that the federal government responded to and called out the Biden administration for failing to act.
“Where is the Biden justice department amid this violent campaign of national scope?” asked Bishop. “Mr. President, it is time for action. Do your duty.”
North State Journal reached out to some of the North Carolina congressional Democrats for comment on their vote.
Rep. Manning’s office responded by pointing to an official press release which both rejected violence and vandalism but also attacked it as a “political ploy.”
“I want to be clear: I reject all forms of violence and vandalism and I condemn groups that use destruction as a means to an end. However, instead of uniting the Congress against acts of violence and vandalism, radical Republicans introduced a one-sided resolution that uses inflammatory language to rally Americans against one another and ignores the violence levied against abortion providers,” Manning said in the statement. “In its current form, this resolution is nothing more than a political ploy to district from the harm abortion bans are causing women and families in states across the country.”
Manning went on to list an alternate bill she co-sponsored as well as voting against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R.26) because Manning said H.R. 26 is “an anti-abortion bill” that is “rooted in disinformation and baseless claims.”
Congresswoman Deborah Ross’s office also directed North State Journal to a press statement.
The release says Ross “voted against a resolution that singles out acts of violence to further an anti-choice political agenda, while failing to protect healthcare facilities.”
“In their first days in the majority, House Republicans are already fast-tracking an extreme agenda that is at odds with the needs of women and the will of the American people,” Ross said. “An overwhelming majority of Americans support a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. These latest pieces of anti-choice legislation are nothing but political stunts. I stand united with my Democratic colleagues in fighting for women’s reproductive freedom and opposing these dangerous proposals.”
In an email to North State Journal, Nickel’s office also referred to an alternate measure.
“While the Congressman did not support H. Con. Res.3, he did co-sponsor H. Res. 27 introduced by Rep. Dianna Degette (CO-01) condemning all acts of political violence and attacks on health care facilities, personnel, and patients,” responded Nickel staffer Kevin Porter. “This resolution also affirms the right of all people to access reproductive health care and medical advice free from violence and intimidation.”
Late last summer, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and then-Rep. Ted Budd called on Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein to protect crisis pregnancy centers in the state and investigate the attack on the Asheville clinic allegedly perpetrated by the group “Jane’s Revenge.” In a letter dated July 29, the lawmakers urge Stein to use the Freedom of Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act of 1994 to protect Crisis Pregnancy Centers in North Carolina.
“These despicable acts violate both North Carolina law and federal law. Specifically, the Freedom of Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act of 19943 protects clinics that support pregnant women and decline to perform abortions,” the letter to Stein reads. “This law empowers state Attorneys General such as yourself with the authority to seek civil relief for conduct that violates the FACE Act.”
The letter was also signed by Reps. Bishop, Richard Hudson (R-09), and Greg Murphy (R-03). The request to Stein was made after 20 members of the U.S. House sent a letter in June to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland reminding him of his responsibility to defend Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
Stein’s response to Tillis and Budd acknowledged receipt of their letter but did not stipulate he would investigate the attack, yet stated “As our state’s Attorney General, my top priority is to protect the people of North Carolina.”
“If you are aware of anyone engaging in violence against people exercising their rights, whether at a pregnancy crisis center or an abortion clinic, I urge you to notify local law enforcement and district attorneys would have authority over any criminal charges related to public safety,” Stein wrote.
In an email statement to North State Journal, Sen. Budd criticized Stein’s response.
“Attorney General Stein refuses to acknowledge that he currently has unique authority to pursue justice against those who threaten crisis pregnancy centers,” Budd wrote. “His office, as well as the federal Department of Justice, can and should do much more to protect these centers in the wake of renewed threats of violence and vandalism.”