By Jonathon Van Maren
On Mother’s Day, shortly after the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the office of Wisconsin Family Action was attacked with Molotov cocktails. Before they left, the arsonists spray-painted a message on the side of the building in black paint: “If abortion isn’t safe then you aren’t either.” The attackers claimed to be part of a group called Jane’s Revenge, and they warned that more terrorism would be forthcoming: “Wisconsin is the first flashpoint, but we are all over the US, and we will issue no further warnings.” They issued a 30-day ultimatum to all pro-life organizations and crisis pregnancy centres to shut down or face their wrath.
The activists behind Jane’s Revenge—the name may be an homage to the 1970s illegal abortion network Jane’s Collective—appear to be deadly serious. Sometime early in the morning of June 7, the crisis pregnancy center CompassCare in Buffalo, New York was firebombed. The windows of the reception room and nurses’ offices were smashed, and firebomb were tossed inside. Early Sunday morning, four churches in Olympia, Washington were vandalized; the group is openly claiming responsibility for the attacks. On the side of the firebombed crisis pregnancy center in Buffalo they wrote: “Jane was here.”
It is difficult to determine whether Jane’s Revenge is an organization with hierarchical leadership, a group of disparate cells with the same mission, or simply a slogan used by all those willing to engage in violence against pro-lifers. They appear to be similar to Antifa—decentralized groups or activists not necessarily connected but all willing to utilize the same tactics for the same set of revolutionary goals. Abortion activists have been calling for months of protest under the name “Summer of Rage” since the Roe leak; Jane’s Revenge is calling for a “Night of Rage” if the final decision does in fact overturn Roe.
Specifically, an open letter posted to the Anarchist Federation website on May 31 calls for a night of burning and violence. The response to the Roe leak, the letter reads, has been “tepid” and underwhelming:
We have agonized over this apparent absence of indignation. Why is it that we are so afraid to unleash hell upon those who are destroying us? Fear of state repression is valid, but this goes deeper than that.
Your anger has been stolen from you.
To this we say: no more. We need to get angry.
We need the state to feel our full wrath.
We need to express this madness fully and with ferocity. We need to quit containing ourselves.
We need them to be afraid of us.
In response, they have concluded, Antifa tactics—and I would not be surprised if there is plenty of overlap between the two groups—are necessary:
The time to act was decades ago. The next best time is now.
Whatever form your fury takes, the first step is feeling it.
The next step is carrying that anger out into the world and expressing it physically.
Consider this your call to action.
On the night the final ruling is issued——a specific date we cannot yet predict, but we know is arriving imminently——we are asking for courageous hearts to come out after dark.
Whoever you are and wherever you are, we are asking for you to do what you can to make your anger known.
We have selected a time of 8pm for actions nationwide to begin, but know that this is a general guideline. There may be other considerations involved in planning time and place. We do not claim to speak for every community or crew. We are simply calling out to you. And we hope you answer our cries.
To the cis male allies who would be interested in joining us in the streets, we say: you are certainly welcome, but you must use your privilege to shield and support us in a way that also enables us to get angry. Do not police us. Do not tell us what is and isn’t appropriate. But do aid us when we are in need.
We must also say: do not wait until the verdict arrives to organize.
Make plans now. Take action now.
It is not enough to share images on Twitter and Instagram (though that is still important to do). We cannot sustain this movement any longer with the same few hundred people who have been beaten down over and over again. We must not only circulate this call on social media, but reach out to communities who may not be in touch with “radical circles” online.
Mass action requires mass outreach.
We would not be issuing this call if we did not believe in our bones that this kind of action is possible. We have witnessed the wom*n of Argentina, Mexico and Poland organize autonomously for their reproductive liberation. We know it can be done…but we need every soul reading this to do their part.
To those who work to oppress us: If abortion isn’t safe, you aren’t either. We are everywhere.
Anyone who watched the BLM riots or the takeover of wide swathes of Portland by Antifa should know that these are not idle threats. Burning churches and firebombed pro-life offices should persuade any sceptics that Jane’s Revenge appears intent on becoming a full-blown domestic terrorist group targeting pro-life organizations—including centers that exist for the explicit purpose of assisting low-income mothers.
That, and earlier this week the police arrested a man from California who had traveled to Maryland with a Glock 17, two magazines and ammunition, a knife, pepper spray, and burglary tools (a hammer, zip ties, duct tape) with the intent of assassinating Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Nicholas John Roske openly admitted that he “was there to kill the justice”—he was arrested on a street near Kavanaugh’s home. He knew where Kavanaugh lived because other abortion activists had released that information online.
The abortion activist group “Ruth Sent Us”—named for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the abortion champion replaced by Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court—previously doxxed the pro-life Supreme Court justices by publishing their home addresses on the social media platform TikTok. It is fair to point out that if the roles had been reversed and the attempted assassin had been anti-abortion and the targeted justice had been, say, Elena Kagan, that there would not be a front page in the country—or, for that matter, the Western world—that would not be screaming the news.
I’ve noted before that while the mainstream media bends over backwards to paint the pro-life movement as a threat, the precise reverse is actually true: Violence against those expressing pro-life views in public is common. Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, for example, has explicitly said that she does not oppose violence against pro-lifers on moral grounds, only for tactical reasons. Violence against peaceful pro-life activists is routinely ignored despite the fact that it happens with shocking regularity—a single instance of this behavior against an abortion supporter would immediately result in breaking news coverage and an insistence that these actions are characteristic of the entire pro-life movement.
We should be taking the threats of groups like Jane’s Revenge very seriously. When radical abortion activists engage in violence they are being consistent with their worldview. A fundamental premise of the pro-abortion view is that inconvenient human beings can be met with violence. Millions of pre-born children have been cruelly killed in the womb; now that some states may soon be able to enact protections for them, the blood-fuelled rage of revolutionaries who have already embraced the idea that some killing is permissible may decide to expand their roster of permissible targets. If an innocent, vulnerable child in the womb at nine months can be killed, why not a Supreme Court justice? Or pro-lifers who lobby for protections for the pre-born?
I fear that the firebombers of Jane’s Revenge are asking themselves precisely those questions.