Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic, The Jackson Women's Health Organization, Was Badly Vandalized
The iconic "Pink House" in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson, Mississippi, is home to the state's last remaining abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization. As the only operating abortion clinic for more than a decade, the "Pink House" has become a primary target for several anti-abortion extremist groups. After weeks of reportedly witnessing increased pressure from anti-abortion protesters, Jackson Women's Health Organization was heavily vandalized Sunday night, and clinic staff members have an idea who's behind the crime.
JWHO staff members and volunteers described the extent of the damage Monday morning on their affiliated website, Wake Up Mississippi. Clinic staff returned to the clinic to find their security cameras destroyed, leaving the clinic's security monitor completely blank. "One can’t really imagine the fear that goes through your body when you see that something you always rely on to assure you that you are safe isn’t working," JWHO staff wrote.
In addition to the security cameras, the clinic's state-mandated generator "dismantled and seriously damaged," clinic staff wrote. Fortunately, the clinic's security cameras were able to capture glimpses of the perpetrator before the devices were destroyed.
The JWHO staff continued:
Other damage found indicates they [the "masked intruder"] were trying to destroy the power lines coming into the building, no doubt hoping to stop all patient care for the near future.
Clinic staff have said members of the California-based group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust have been in town lately, harassing clinic employees and patients. Operation Save America has also been in the area as well. However, JWHO staff can't confirm at this time if the perpetrator was affiliated with one of these anti-abortion groups.
The following photos show the recent vandalism, including the security cameras apparently ripped off the building and disconnected.
The clinic has already contacted the FBI to investigate the vandalism and security breach. Vandalism or intentional damage to an abortion clinic, trespassing on clinic property, and physically blocking access to an abortion clinic are federal crimes under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which was established in the 1990s when anti-abortion violence in America reached its peak.
Jackson Women's Health Organization is just one of numerous abortion clinics in the South that has weathered vandalism and, at worse, extreme violence over the years. The current owner of JWHO, Diane Derzis, was at the center of a nail-bombing in 1996 at her former abortion clinic, New Woman All Woman in nearby Birmingham, Alabama.
But Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic is committed to keep going, even without all its security measures in place. The clinic assured its supporters and patients on Tuesday that its doors remain open right next to those signs made famous by abortion provider Dr. George Tiller: "This Clinic Stays Open."
"Dear VANDALS," clinic staff wrote on their Facebook page Tuesday morning. "WE ARE OPEN!!!"
And as for those security measures, clinic staff say they're now considering turning their bright-colored abortion clinic into a "fortress" to keep anti-abortion extremists from causing any more physical damage or harming the clinic's doctors and patients. "Maybe it will be adding barbed wire to the roof... slowly morphing into a fortress, both intimidating yet reassuring," clinic staff wrote on their website. "The goal of the anti-abortion terrorists is to transform a legal ... medical procedure into a fearful, and traumatic experience for everyone involved."