The Department of Justice's third-ranking official has a history of calling crisis pregnancy centers "fake clinics," a false, inflammatory description employed by terrorist groups that have recently attacked the pro-life organizations.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta deployed the rhetoric in a 2020 letter urging senators to vote against a Trump judicial nominee. Nearly 60 crisis centers, which counsel women on alternatives to abortion, have been firebombed or vandalized over the past two months. An anarchist group that has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks, Jane’s Revenge, has used the same "fake clinic" rhetoric as Gupta.
The Biden administration has repeatedly accused Republicans of causing acts of violence through their rhetoric. The White House baselessly claimed a GOP-backed bill in Florida to restrict teaching about sexual orientation to young children "encourages bullying and threatens students’ mental health, physical safety, and well-being." Democrats tried to link Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) to a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., in May that left 10 people dead. They claimed that Stefanik’s opposition to mass illegal immigration echoed the Buffalo shooter’s writings about "great replacement theory."
Gupta’s remarks carry new significance after she was appointed this month to lead the Justice Department’s reproductive rights task force, formed to protect access to abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Gupta also supervises the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which prosecutes attacks against reproductive health facilities, a classification that includes crisis pregnancy centers.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), who introduced a bill this month to expand criminal penalties for attacks on the centers, said Gupta’s remarks are "no surprise" given the Justice Department’s "disregard" for the assaults on pro-life organizations.
"It’s shameful that Joe Biden’s Department of Justice—responsible for enforcing our laws—is ignoring the epidemic of violent attacks against organizations that are just trying to provide health care to women in need," Hawley told the Washington Free Beacon.
While it has moved to protect abortion clinics, the Justice Department has largely ignored the violence against pro-life centers. Gupta and other DOJ leaders met with civil rights and pro-abortion groups this week to update them on the task force’s work. The Justice Department does not appear to have met with pro-life groups that have sought meetings with the agency over the firebombing.
Gupta slammed crisis pregnancy centers while opposing the nomination of Judge David Dugan because of his affiliation with a center in Illinois. At the time, Gupta led the civil rights group Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The head of one pro-life group that has sought a DOJ meeting says Gupta’s remarks make her "unfit" to lead the task force.
"Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta’s attacks on pregnancy resource centers which help pregnant women in need are shameful and utterly irresponsible," said CatholicVote president Brian Burch.
"Ms. Gupta should be investigating and prosecuting the radical criminals who are vandalizing and firebombing pregnancy resource centers nationwide," Burch told the Free Beacon, adding that Attorney General Merrick Garland should "immediately rescind" Gupta’s appointment.
Gupta is not the only high-ranking DOJ official to attack crisis pregnancy centers. Kristen Clarke, the head of the agency’s civil rights division and a task force member, called the centers "harmful" and "predatory" after a 2018 Supreme Court ruling in favor of the facilities in 2018, the Free Beacon reported.
As part of its work, the task force is centralizing information about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a federal statute that makes it a crime to threaten or attack reproductive health centers. The Justice Department has brought multiple cases against activists who blocked the entrances of abortion clinics, but none so far against people who firebombed pro-life organizations.
The Justice Department did not address questions about Gupta’s comments. The agency provided comment from the FBI, which said it is investigating "a series of attacks and threats targeting pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and reproductive health clinics across the country, as well as to judicial buildings, including the U.S. Supreme Court."
"The incidents are being investigated as potential acts of domestic violent extremism, FACE Act violations, or violent crime matters, depending on the facts of each case," an FBI representative told the Free Beacon.