Philadelphia, Pa., May 21, 2019 / 03:54 pm (CNA).- A Catholic church in Pennsylvania was vandalized with pro-choice graffiti over the weekend as the abortion debate escalates around the country, following the passage of a major abortion law in Alabama.
Parishioners at Notre Dame de Lourdes parish in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania were greeted at Sunday Mass by messages that had been spray-painted on the church’s doors and outside walls, according to CBS Philly.
A message painted in black on the front doors read: “You do not have the right to decide how others live.” Another message on the side of the church read: “#ProChoice.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>A church in <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/DelawareCounty?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#DelawareCounty</a> was vandalized with abortion rights graffiti. <a href=”https://twitter.com/JoeHoldenCBS3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@joeholdencbs3</a> has the story: <a href=”https://t.co/MTdrO6GehW”>t.co/MTdrO6GehW</a></p>— CBS Philly (@CBSPhilly) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBSPhilly/status/1130311097733582848?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 20, 2019</a></blockquote>
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“It was very shocking to come up to the church and see that,” Jessica Prince told CBS Philly. “I’d have to say the first half of Mass was me crying the whole time because I was so upset somebody would do that to the church.”
“If people wanted to come and stand outside our church and protest our beliefs, go for it,” Prince added, “but vandalizing a property, I think, is taking it way too far.”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia told CBS Philly in a statement that security footage of the incident had been found and handed over to police, who were investigating the incident.
“…the parish will cooperate with law enforcement as it investigates the incident. This afternoon, parishioners successfully removed the graffiti,” the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said.
In February of this year, an incident in which a man threw a statue of Mary into the trash and damaged the statue at a Brooklyn parish was investigated as a hate crime by authorities.
The graffiti incident comes after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that will outlaw nearly all abortions in the state. The law is intended to directly challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that declared it unconstitutional for states to prohibit abortions.
The Human Life Protection Act (HB314) will make attempting or performing an abortion a felony offense for doctors, though women would not face criminal charges for undergoing an abortion.
It also comes just weeks after Pennsylvania state representative Brian Sims posted videos to Twitter in which he harassed and doxed multiple people, including three minors, who were praying quietly outside of a Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia.
Sims later apologized for violating Planned Parenthood’s policy of not engaging protestors, although he did not apologize to the woman he had confronted.