ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A pregnancy clinic operating under the banner of pro-life has plans to set up shop in Albany, but after vandalism at the company’s Buffalo location, they’re proceeding with caution. CompassCare’s CEO Jim Harden says he saw the writing on the wall long before vandals tagged and set the Buffalo clinic on fire Tuesday morning.
“We knew this was coming for a month,” Harden says. “We did receive specific threats in the lead up. We were also aware of specific threats to other organizations.”
The Department of Homeland Security issuing a bulletin Tuesday saying due to the Supreme Court weighing options on Roe v. Wade, institutions both for and against abortion face potential violence. Harden says CompassCare now considers how to protect their next investment in Albany set to open within a month.
“Currently, we’re looking to close on a facility, an office, that would be able to serve 25 percent of the entire population,” he explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton. “Security is definitely a concern and there has been in the lead up. We heightened our security measures [at existing locations]. We never have anyone alone in the facility. We always walk out to the parking lot in two-by-twos. We’ve increased other types of security measures to our perimeter, etcetera, communicating constantly with law enforcement and things of that nature.”
Harden claims despite Homeland Security’s memo saying there are threats to both sides of the abortion argument, he believes it’s the pro-life clinics taking all the heat.
“They’re not the ones getting threatened. They’re not the ones burning,” he says of abortion clinics.
“It is fair to say that there have been abortion centers that have been the targets of violence in the past, so what I would like to ask you is, would you be willing to also denounce similar acts of violence against them?” NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton asks.
“CompassCare fully and wholeheartedly, full-throatedly denounces all violence everywhere. We’re open to having civil discourse. We’re open to having conversations about differences of opinion, but there’s no place for violence in civilized order,” Harden replies.
“True pro-life people value every single human life as made in the image of God. That’s the basis for human dignity. So any of the people you see out there committing violence, they don’t truly believe in the value of humanity,” he also adds.
However, he further claims Governor Kathy Hochul hasn’t openly denounced violence the same way. He says there’s been no response since the vandalism in Buffalo.
“It’s mindboggling that our political leaders would let this happen. Their silence emboldens this kind of behavior,” he says.
The governor’s office responds to NEWS10 on Thursday saying:
Governor Hochul condemns violence of any kind, and the State Police stand ready to assist local authorities with the investigation.Governor Kathy Hochul spokesperson
Harden says CompassCare will continue its plans in Albany and to restore its Buffalo location while operating temporarily out of an undisclosed location. He has his eye on employment as well, hoping the threats do not deter applicants.
“I certainly hope that not to be the case. We do have some incredibly dedicated people who believe strongly in our work, so I don’t believe [the threats] will slow plans at all,” Harden says.
He says even if you don’t agree with the faith-based non profit’s stance on abortion, he hopes the Albany community will at least be open to giving women more options.
“Women’s healthcare is too important. We don’t want to live in a society where a woman has to feel like the only option is abortion,” he says.