A 15-year-old student was taken to the hospital after a woman punched her in the face outside of a Planned Parenthood in Roanoke, Virginia on Saturday morning.
The student, Purity Thomas, is a high school leader with Students for Life of America and was “peacefully sidewalk counseling” with a small group of other leaders outside of Planned Parenthood on Saturday morning when a woman sparked the altercation, the group said in a statement.
During sidewalk counseling, Students for Life leaders offer women support, encouragement and resources for pregnancy care instead of abortion.
On Saturday, the students had congregated in a grassy area outside of the abortion clinic where volunteers typically meet. Because that Planned Parenthood location performs abortions on Saturday, pro-life leaders usually offer counseling, prayer and peaceful protest outside of that location on a weekly basis.
The group of student leaders were standing away from the entrance of the Planned Parenthood when a woman reportedly threatened the group and said she would beat them up and “[expletive] them up,” the group said.
The woman reportedly approached the students and stole a sign that read “All people are made in the image of God.” At this point one of the students began filming, and the woman approached the group a second time, attempting to steal another sign before punching Thomas in the face.
The incident was caught on video.
“This act of violence against a group of peaceful pro-life students who were outside a Planned Parenthood offering love and support to pregnant women serves as a sad reflection on the state of debate today,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement.
“It’s horrific that a minor expressing love for pregnant women was targeted for violence.”
After the incident, one of the student leaders called the police, and Thomas was taken to the hospital for her injuries. She was examined and released Saturday.
Hawkins added that this ”is not an isolated incident. Across the country we are witnessing a rise in the number of incidents of vandalism and violence against peaceful pro-life speech,” she said. “We pray that the assailant from today’s attack is brought to justice swiftly. But we also pray for the protection of those who volunteer their time to speak for the innocent, preborn infants and their mothers.”