The Justice Department announced Friday it is charging two more pro-life women with violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
Bevelyn Beatty Williams, 31, and Edmee Chavannes, 41, are accused of trying to stop abortions from taking place, thereby violating the FACE Act in what the DOJ described as “a multi-year campaign to interfere with individuals seeking to obtain and provide lawful reproductive health services in New York and in several other states.”
In one instance, according to FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the New York FBI office Michael J. Driscoll, Williams reportedly injured an abortion clinic employee while attempting to block abortions from taking place in the building.
The two women surrendered to authorities on Friday and will be presented in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the DOJ said in a release.
“As alleged, the defendants repeatedly attempted — including by using threats, and on at least one occasion, force — to prevent individuals from accessing their legal right to reproductive health services,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “This Office will remain committed to ensuring that healthcare facilities, their staff, and those seeking to obtain reproductive health services can continue to do so without unlawful interference.”
Videos purportedly show Williams and Chavannes, who are both black, trying to speak to Black Lives Matter activists about the dangers of abortion to the black population. In 2020, Williams was reportedly stabbed along with multiple Proud Boys during Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C.
The two pro-life activists did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Williams and Chavannes reportedly used “force, threats of force, and physical obstruction” to “injure, intimidate, and interfere” with women seeking to abort their unborn babies, according to an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court on Friday, the DOJ said.
One incident involved the “Health Center” in Manhattan, according to the DOJ release, which appears to be the Planned Parenthood Manhattan Health Center. An employee at this Planned Parenthood hung up on The Daily Signal when asked to comment.
“In one instance, Williams pressed her body against the door of the Health Center’s patient entrance and refused to move, preventing a Health Center volunteer from entering the Health Center,” the indictment said. “As a Health Center staff member (‘Victim-1’) attempted to open the door for the volunteer, Williams purposefully leaned against the door, crushing Victim-1’s hand. Victim-1 yelled, ‘She’s crushing my hand,’ but Williams remained against the door, trapping Victim-1’s hand and injuring it.”
The indictment continued:
At various times on June 19 and 20, 2020, Williams and Chavannes stood directly in front of the Health Center entrances. Williams and Chavannes initially blocked the main entrance used by patients, causing the Health Center to have to divert patients to enter through the staff entrance. Williams and Chavannes responded by moving in front of the staff entrance and directing others to do so as well. In addition, on or about June 19, 2020, Chavannes threatened Victim-1 by leaning her body toward Victim-1 at close range, forcing Victim-1 against metal barricades, while yelling “do not touch me” within inches of Victim-1’s face.
The indictment also cited a June 2020 livestream in which Williams reportedly said, “This is going to be a wonderful day. We are going to terrorize this place. And I want the manager to hear me say that. We are going to terrorize this place. More people are coming.”
She also said on the following day, according to the indictment: “We gonna stand here and we ain’t moving. We not moving. We’re standing here, so I guess no women will be coming in for abortions today. It’s a warzone.”
The indictment notes that Williams and Chavannes also sought to stop women from aborting their babies in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, and Brooklyn, New York.
If convicted of conspiracy to violate the FACE Act, Williams and Chavannes could spend up to five years in prison. Williams, who is additionally charged with violating the FACE Act through “force, threats of force, and physical obstruction, resulting in bodily harm” — for which she could serve a maximum of 10 years in prison. Chavannes is also charged with “violating the FACE Act through threats of force and physical obstruction, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.”
“The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge,” the DOJ release said.
The Justice Department has been using the FACE Act to target pro-life activists as a response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said earlier this month.
The associate attorney general described the overturn of Roe v. Wade as a “devastating blow to women throughout the country” that took away “the constitutional right to abortion” and increased “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work—including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the FACE Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.”
It protects both pro-life pregnancy centers and abortion clinics, as a DOJ official noted to Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, last week.
At least 98 Catholic churches and 77 pregnancy resource centers and other pro-life organizations have been attacked since May, but the DOJ has apparently not charged a single person in connection with these attacks. Meanwhile, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has charged almost 30 pro-life individuals with FACE Act violations this year.
The DOJ has not responded to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment on this point.
Pregnancy resource centers are typically run by pro-life women who seek to offer expectant mothers alternatives to abortion. Such centers provide diapers, baby clothes, and resources for both mothers and fathers, empowering them to care for their child, overcome addictions, build community, and find jobs.
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