(The Daily Signal) – As pro-life activists face prison time brought on by Department of Justices charges, Republican members of Congress are introducing legislation targeting the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy introduced a bill Tuesday to repeal the FACE Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.” Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee will soon introduce a Senate version of the bill, The Daily Signal has learned.
“Free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs,” Roy told The Daily Signal. “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.”
“Our Constitution separates power between the federal government and the states for a reason, and we ignore that safeguard at our own peril,” he added. “The FACE Act is an unconstitutional federal takeover of state police powers; it must be repealed.”
The bill is cosponsored by a slew of Republican representatives including Chris Smith of New Jersey, Bob Good of Virginia, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Jim Banks of Indiana, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, and Doug Lamborn of Colorado.
The act protects both abortion clinics and pro-life pregnancy centers, but the DOJ has widely used it to charge pro-life activists with FACE violations since the Supreme Court’s June 2022 overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Roy also led an effort to defund enforcement of the FACE Act in April 2023, but the proposal largely died when it was not included in the House Appropriations subcommittee draft.
Just last week, three more pro-life activists were convicted on DOJ charges of trying to stop abortions to take place at a Washington, D.C. abortion clinic. And in late August, five other pro-life activists were also found guilty of conspiracy against rights and violating the FACE Act.
Some of these activists are represented by legal firm The Thomas More Society. The firm’s general counsel Andrew Bath told The Daily Signal that the “egregious abuse of government power must stop.”
“The FACE Act has been weaponized by this administration” he said. “Even if enforced honestly, the FACE Act is unconstitutional. If our constitutional system of separation of powers and the ideal of citizen self-government are to be preserved, the FACE Act must be repealed.”
The Justice Department has openly said that it is targeting pro-life activists through the FACE Act as a response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in December that the overturn of Roe increased “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work—including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
The DOJ charged at least 26 pro-life individuals in 2022 with violations of the FACE Act. No far-left attackers were charged with the FACE Act in 2022, and the DOJ has charged only four people with FACE Act violations in 2023 for attacking Florida pro-life pregnancy centers.
At least 88 pro-life groups and 192 churches have been attacked since the May leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, according to CatholicVote trackers. Vandals often tagged these buildings with threats such as “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” making the attacks incidents of suspected pro-abortion violence that federal authorities have been slow to investigate.
“The Biden administration has taken weaponization of government to a new level—his weapon of choice against pro-lifers has been the FACE Act, which has been mainly used to target peaceful pro-life activists who stand up for the unborn,” Tom McClusky, director of government affairs at CatholicVote, told The Daily Signal. “Rep. Roy and Sen. Lee are right to take this weapon away from Joe Biden and restore the First Amendment right to peacefully protest.”