Virginia City's 'Abortion Provider Appreciation Day' a No-Go After Pro-life Pushback

Dem mayor Justin Wilson withdraws plan to celebrate 'courage' and 'compassion' of abortion providers

A pro-choice activist in Chicago / Getty Images
March 8, 2022

The city of Alexandria, Va., was set to recognize March 10 as "Abortion Provider Appreciation Day." But the mayor folded within 24 hours after his plan sparked criticism from the city's Catholic community.

Alexandria mayor Justin Wilson signed a declaration earlier this month to mark the day as a celebration of the "courage, compassion, and the high-quality care" of abortionists. The city council planned to vote on the proposal Tuesday, but the mayor withdrew the plan on Friday, according to the Daily Wire.

Fr. Chris Christensen, pastor of St. Rita's in Alexandria, said he was appalled when his parishioners brought the mayor's plans to his attention on Thursday. He began to spread the word immediately and the city scrapped the plan a day later after Catholic city residents flooded the mayor's office with calls expressing their concerns.

"I was really, really impressed with our response," Christensen told the Washington Free Beacon. "It's the fact that our community is so family-oriented."

Democratic-run cities such as Minneapolis and St. Louis have in recent years observed the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers, a national movement in remembrance of Dr. David Gunn—an abortionist who was murdered on March 10, 1993. In his signed declaration, Wilson said the city should observe the day in light of the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling on Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, which could overturn Roe v. Wade and allow for more abortion restrictions around the country.

The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Christensen said that the pushback against the mayor was a grassroots effort. Elizabeth Fitton, a mother of four, encouraged fellow parishioners from St. Rita's to call the mayor's office on Thursday after learning of his plan, which she called "stunning" and "alienating."

"To be so vocal about it and take so much pride in it was just offensive," Fitton told the Free Beacon.

Bishop Michael Burbidge, who presides over all the parishes in Alexandria and nearby Arlington, released a statement Thursday in opposition to the declaration. Hours later, the mayor scrapped the plan to vote on the measure in Tuesday's meeting.

Dori Rutherford, a mother of three who attends the Basilica of Saint Mary, said it was reassuring to have the support of their bishop on such short notice.

"It's important that we stay on top of these issues in local government that come up," Rutherford told the Free Beacon. "I think people need to understand that it's important to call and push back."