As Trials Near, Pro-Life Activists Demand Repeal of Unequally Enforced FACE Act

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Jury selection began Wednesday in Washington, D.C., in the trials of the first five of 10 pro-life activists indicted under the FACE Act. 

The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services,” according to the Department of Justice. 

The activists, self-styled “rescuers,” were indicted under the FACE Act for blocking the entrances to the Washington Surgi-Clinic abortion facility in October 2020. They say they are each being charged with one count of violating the FACE Act and one count of conspiracy to deny a right.

“[Eleven] years in federal prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines is not what I envisioned for my life at [age] 27,” one of the defendants, Herb Geraghty, told The Daily Signal, citing the possible sentence he and the others could be facing. “Regardless of what the government does to me, it is nothing compared to what they allow [Surgi-Clinic operator abortion doctor] Cesare Santangelo to do to unborn babies.”

Members of the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), joined by activists from other pro-life organizations, held a press conference outside the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in Washington on Wednesday. Among the indicted who spoke were Geraghty, a board member of PAAU; Will Goodman of Red Rose Rescue; and Lauren Handy, director of activism for PAAU. Handy previously spent 45 days in jail for blockading a Michigan abortion clinic in 2019.

Three people calling for repeal of the federal FACE Act attend a pro-life news conference outside the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in Washington on Wednesday. (Photo: Elise McCue/The Daily Signal)

“Deeply entrenched social evils, like the attack on the innocent here, do not happen without the full support and collaboration of the government,” said Goodman. “We’ve been charged with FACE and with conspiracy, but the true injustice is that our judge has not allowed for any arguments for constitutional protection for the pre-born.”

According to PAAU, the Department of Justice has indicted 126 pro-life people under the FACE Act since its enactment in 1994. There have been only three indictments of pro-abortion activists under it. 

“That is in the face of nearly 70 attacks on [pro-life pregnancy resource centers] since the Dobbs leak, and many of those have been extremely violent, including firebombs, so the unequal application of this law clearly highlights why FACE needs to be repealed,” said Terrisa Bukovinac, founder of the PAAU. 

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The “Dobbs leak” is a reference to the May 2022 divulging, six weeks in advance, of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the high court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Some members of Congress share Bukovinac’s sentiments in seeking repeal of the FACE Act. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, is leading the charge among lawmakers to defund it.

Writing in chalk outside the federal courthouse in Washington displayed messages like this to passers-by on Wednesday morning. (Photo: Elise McCue/The Daily Signal)

Roy called out the actions of the Justice Department under President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland against pro-life activists, citing the treatment of Mark Houck, a Catholic parent, activist, and now a congressional candidate

“Last September, the American people watched in horror as dozens of heavily armed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and more than a dozen vehicles conducted an early-morning raid, with guns drawn, on the home of Mark Houck, his wife, and seven children,” Roy wrote in a March 31 letter to the drafters of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal 2024, urging them to defund Justice Department enforcement of the FACE Act.

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The post As Trials Near, Pro-Life Activists Demand Repeal of Unequally Enforced FACE Act appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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