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DOJ Wielding FACE Act to Deter Pro-lifers

Updated: May 17

'Americans should never live in fear of their government'



Four more pro-lifers involved in a peaceful protest outside a Tennessee abortion clinic have been found guilty in federal court of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.


The convicted include Eva Edl (87), Eva Zastrow (24), James Zastrow (25), and Paul Place (24). They face up to six months in prison, five years of supervised release and fines of up to $10,000. Sentencing is scheduled for July 30.


Representative Chip Roy (R-TX-21), outspoken critic of the FACE Act, has asserted, “Free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs."


"Yet, Biden's Department of Justice has brazenly weaponized the FACE Act against normal, everyday Americans across the political spectrum, simply because they are pro-life", he added.


Charges were brought against the four after they participated in a pro-life protest at the Carafem abortuary in Mt. Juliet in March 2021. Livestream footage shows an assembled group of pro-lifers praying, singing hymns and urging women who show up not to kill their babies. 


According to the DOJ, “These defendants positioned themselves directly in front of the main clinic door for over two hours, physically blocking access to the clinic, resulting in no patients accessing the clinic.”


Lawyers for the defendants argued that the DOJ did not prove the pro-lifers had actually blocked anyone from entering the clinic or inhibited the activities of the staff, the Daily Wire (DW) reported.


Caroline Davis (24), one of those arrested at the protest, took a plea deal and agreed to testify for the government. Much of the DOJ’s case rested on Davis, who repeatedly said that she had a “massive change in perspective and beliefs” after her participation, according to the DW.

 

Testimony was also heard from a former worker at Carafem and a Mt. Juliet police officer who processed the arrests of the pro-lifers.


In January, six other pro-lifers at the same protest in Mt. Juliet were convicted of conspiracy against civil rights and FACE Act violations. The convicted included

Chester Gallagher (73), Heather Idoni (58), Calvin Zastrow (57), Coleman Boyd (51), Dennis Green (56) and Paul Vaughn (55).


Video of Vaughn's arrest by the FBI, armed with automatic weapons, in October 2022 went viral.


In the video taken by Vaughn’s wife, she asks the FBI agents, “I want to know why you’re banging on my door with a gun. You’re not going to tell me why you’re here? You’re not going to give me any information?” An agent responds, “No, we’re not. I tried.” The mother of 11 calls back, “No, you didn’t! You didn’t try!” The agents can also be seen refusing to identify themselves as they drive away with her shackled husband.


In response to the DOJ's aggressive efforts, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has introduced legislation to repeal the FACE Act. Roy said that while the law was intended to protect abortion facilities, Biden’s DOJ has weaponized it to target pro-life activists.


Trump has pledged to create a task force to keep in check the overly aggressive acts of Biden's DOJ if reelected in 2024. At a “Pray Vote Stand Summit” in 2023, he committed to review and potentially pardon or commute the sentences of every “political prisoner who’s been unjustly persecuted by the Biden administration.”


The FACE Act, enacted in 1994 during Bill Clinton's administration, "makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services", according to the National Abortion Federation.


Prior to and immediately following Tuesday's convictions, the defendants and their families prayed and sang hymns outside the courthouse. Hymns included “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”


Eva Edl, one of those convicted on Tuesday, grew up in Eastern Europe and survived a Communist concentration camp. Before the trial she told a crowd, “Whatever happens, we are in the Lord’s hands.”


Dr. Barbara Toth has a doctorate in rhetoric and composition from Bowling Green State University. She has taught at universities in the US, China and Saudi Arabia. Her work in setting up a writing center at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahmen University, an all-women's university in Riyadh, has been cited in American journals. Toth has published academic and non-academic articles and poems internationally.


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