The CEO of a recently firebombed pregnancy center has a powerful message for those responsible: “Engaging in hate is destructive to the soul.”
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Luke Cirillo, CEO of First Image, an organization that runs pregnancy resource centers in Oregon, said he “loves” those involved, despite disagreeing with their actions and the pain they’ve inflicted.
“Responding to all of this, our heart has been that the hearts of the people who are perpetrating this stuff would be softened,” Cirillo said. “I love the people … and want to see good for them.”
Cirillo added, “This is not good for the soul.”
The Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center was lit ablaze June 11 by unknown vandals after an incendiary was thrown through one of the clinic’s windows. At least one room at the center is destroyed, with water and smoke damage likely throughout.
Watch Cirillo explain what unfolded — and his powerful reaction:
Cirillo said he received a call around 3 a.m. that someone had tried to enter the building and the clinic was on fire. The damage, he said, is “pretty significant.”
“So, our team went out at that point and spent the next eight hours or so working with police, fire, ATF, FBI on the investigative side of it,” he said. “We still haven’t been able to be back in the building. We really don’t actually know what the full extent of the damage is at this point.”
One of the most heartbreaking facets of the dilemma is that the clinic can’t currently operate — and it will be some time before it is again fully functional.
The attack comes as tensions remain high over the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
“It’s disturbing. It’s upsetting. It compromises a sense of safety, especially for our staff,” he said. “So, I immediately go to thinking about all of our folks who are working on the ground, how they’re going to be processing and feeling about such a violent act being directed towards them.”
Cirillo said another one of the clinic’s locations was vandalized in May, when every one of its windows were smashed.
He believes critics lack understanding of his organization, stating there is a “deception” about the mission, goals, and efforts. Cirillo said his organization provides a “slate of services and support” to women facing unsupported pregnancies.
“I think one of the most significant misconceptions about what we do and what clinics like us do is that we’re not actual medical clinics, and we are. We work under an OBGYN,” he said. “We have registered nurses on staff. So, we’re providing medical services to our clients.”
In addition to pregnancy tests and confirmations, women are connected with social services, housing, and help to navigate insurance, among other needs.
The firebombing is now delaying that essential assistance. But Cirillo said his organization has no plans to back down from its mission of serving women and is “totally committed to moving forward.”
Continue to pray for Cirillo and his clinic staff as they navigate the emotional and physical toll of the attack and rebuild what’s needed to progress in their mission.
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