Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chip Roy have introduced legislation to repeal the FACE Act, the federal law that protects abortion facilities from being blocked by pro-life protesters. The law, signed by Bill Clinton in 1994, was most recently used by federal prosecutors to indict six people in Tennessee who now face up to 11 years in prison at their sentencing.
Harry Scherer, of Americans United for Life, tells AFN repealing the law is one way to push back on a weaponized Department of Justice.
“Another option,” he adds, “seems to be waiting for a pro-life president to come in and prosecute people who deface pregnancy resource centers to the full extent of the law.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 not only angered abortion supporters but made a target of pro-life pregnancy centers and even churches. To date, there have been more than 200 documented attacks on pregnancy centers and churches by enraged abortion supports. Those cases of vandalism and even arson are considered domestic terrorism under federal law but there have been few arrests and prosecutions.
Meanwhile, the public watched the Biden administration – also enraged about the Roe ruling – use the FACE Act to attempt to put Mark Houck, a Catholic pro-life leader, in prison. Houck, who was on video pushing away a cursing Planned Parenthood escort, never violated the law but the Biden administration sent a top prosecutor from D.C. to oversee his case in Philadelphia.
After his indictment, Houck was also hauled away in handcuffs in an over-the-top SWAT raid at his home.
Once the case went to the jury, Houck was acquitted within an hour in a case that would have sent him to prison if jurors had returned a guilty verdict.
The more recent FACE Act indictments in Tennessee proved to be a better case. Before the federal trial of several middle-aged protesters, AFN reported the group might have violated the FACE Act when it lined the hallway of a medical building that includes the Carafem abortion clinic. The group (pictured below) livestreamed its peaceful protest, which included hymns and praying outside the abortion clinic, and refused to leave when police arrived.
In its press release, the DOJ said the group had created a “blockade” outside the abortion clinic entrance. The federal government also hit the pro-lifers with a conspiracy charge because one of the pro-life leaders announced the protest in a Facebook.
Meanwhile, the same Department of Justice has allowed protesters to demonstrate in front of the homes of the right-leaning Supreme Court justices who voted in the majority in the Dobbs ruling. Allowing those protests is in defiance of federal law that prohibits “picketing and parading” in front of federal judges but the DOJ says it has allowed the protests because any arrests might violate the First Amendment rights of the pro-abortion protesters.
According to Scherer, the pro-life leader, the issue over whether the FACE Act is constitutional is “downstream” from another more immediate issue: It is not being applied in a “just way” for the pro-lifers who could go to prison for a peaceful protest.