Pennsylvania Catholic Church Vandalized With Pro-Choice Graffiti: 'You Do Not Have the Right To Decide How Others Live'

Notre Dame de Lourdes Church
Notre Dame de Lourdes Church in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania was vandalized just after 3 a.m. on Sunday. Notre Dame de Lourdes Alumni Association Facebook page

Worshipers at a Roman Catholic church in Pennsylvania were shocked when they arrived for Sunday Mass to see that the doors had been vandalized with an abortion-rights message.

The graffiti spray-painted across the entrance to the Notre Dame de Lourdes church in Swarthmore read: "You do not have the right to decide how others live #prochoice." Another message, #prochoice, was tagged onto bricks at the side of the church.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the message was found just after 9 a.m. on Sunday by an unidentified man. He called the church's pastor, Father Joseph Devlin, who notified the Ridley Township Police Department.

"It was very shocking to come up to the church and see that. I'd have to say the first half of Mass [on Sunday] was me crying the whole time because I was so upset somebody would do that to the church," Notre Dame de Lourdes parishioner Jessica Prince told KYW-TV.

"If people wanted to come and stand outside our church and protest our beliefs, go for it, but vandalizing a property, I think, is taking it way too far," she said.

Local authorities were investigating the vandalism at Notre Dame de Lourdes in Swarthmore. According to Crime Watch Pennslyvania, video cameras at the church captured footage of the vandalism, and they were turned over to the Ridley Township police.

In the video, one person, who appeared to be a white male, was seen kneeling in front of the doors to the church while holding a can of spray paint. The individual later walked away from the doors and out of the range of the security cameras.

The Philadelphia Archdiocese told KYW that parishioners were able to remove the graffiti from the building by Sunday afternoon, and that the church would cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

The vandalism highlighted the ongoing debate across the United States about abortion rights, following several states passing laws that severely restrict abortion. Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia and Ohio have all passed "heartbeat bills," so named because they prohibit abortion once a medical professional can detect a fetal heartbeat. Most of these states allow exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies that endanger the life of the woman.

Last week in Alabama, the governor signed a bill that would ban all abortions except for medical emergencies, and make performing the procedure a felony that could bring a sentence of up to 99 years in prison. The law did not allow exceptions for rape and incest, prompting some Republicans who support anti-abortion measures to say it went too far.

Alabama's law, the most restrictive in the country, was slated to take effect in six months, although, along with bills in Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky, it will likely face court challenges. Some lawmakers expect such a move, and would like to see the resulting lawsuits reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which could result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion in the United States.