BUFFALO, N.Y. — Less than two months after a suspected arson forced CompassCare's Amherst-based location to close, the health center hopes to resume inpatient services this week.
CEO Rev. Jim Harden said the nonprofit has spent $250,000 in repairs, is in the midst of a $265,000 expansion and has added $150,000 in security.
"Our security has been amped up beyond what I even knew was possible," Harden said. "There are elements of security that we now have that I didn't know existed six weeks ago."
Regional executive Michael Bonning said CompassCare provides basic health care for women dealing with unplanned pregnancies while at the same time advocating for those women not to have an abortion.
"Many don't realize all the resources there are,” Bonning said. “Material assistance. Financial assistance. Housing. Whatever it is to provide that for her to remove fear and transform that to confidence so when she walks out this door that she has hope and confidence that she can carry her child to term.”
The organization believes the fire was an act of political violence. A militant pro-abortion rights group called Jane's Revenge appears to have claimed responsibility.
Harden said Amherst police are still following leads with the assistance of federal resources.
"We are very frustrated with how long it's taking,” he said. “We're on Day 55 and we're going to start counting, and we're going to start letting everybody know we're on Day 56 without an arrest, and Day 57 without an arrest and Day 58 without an arrest. This is inexcusable.”
Three Republican politicians were at Monday's groundbreaking; Williamsville Mayor Deb Rogers, State Sen. George Borrello, and Rep. Claudia Tenney. None represent the area where the facility is located.
"It was an open invitation to all press and politicians and legislators, so whoever's here I think was able to be here and hopefully the people that aren't here just couldn't because their schedules didn't permit," Harden said.
Borrello and Tenney were far more critical of Democrats’ lack of or muted response.
"Their action or their inaction sends a message that violence is OK if it supports their political agenda,” Borrello said. “That's what the governor, that's what the attorney general and that's what the majority of Democrats in Albany have said. Violence is OK if it supports their political agenda. That's what you see here.”
The state is also investigating the practices of so-called crisis health centers like CompassCare. The organization said it has invited the governor and attorney general to visit a center and meet the people involved.