The Department of Justice official who is supposed to investigate crimes against pro-life pregnancy resource centers once called them “fake clinics,” which are “harmful” and “predatory.”
In fact, in Kristen Clarke’s two years as the DOJ’s assistant attorney general for civil rights, dozens of pro-life activists have been charged with crimes compared to just four pro-abortion activists, leading some lawmakers to state the seemingly obvious.
“That is not even-handed. It’s far from even handed,” said U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, when he grilled Clarke on the disproportionate prosecution of pro-lifers under her watch, as well as in the last 30 years.
According to Roy’s numbers, the DOJ has gone after pro-life activists in 97% of FACE Act cases since 1994.
“[T]he numbers I have are, out of 130 uses of the FACE Act since 1994, 126 were for pro-abortion activists and in defense of abortion providers – and four have been for pro-life Americans and churches, and I think that was one of them in January,” Roy told Clarke in the hearing.
FACE is short for Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, and refers to a law forbidding both the obstruction or interference of a person accessing reproductive health services, as well as damaging such a healthcare facility or its property.
It should apply to both abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, and pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs).
However, since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision was leaked May 2, 2022, which would overturn Roe v. Wade, hundreds of attacks against pro-life PRCs, organizations and churches have led to only a few prosecutions – under the FACE Act and otherwise.
Catholic Vote, for example, has tracked 88 attacks on PRC’s since May 3, 2022, costing at least $1.8 million in estimated damages, and another 383 attacks against Catholic churches since May 28, 2020, costing nearly $24 million in estimated damages, an analysis by The Lion shows.
Family Research Council has compiled its own list of such attacks occurring in the two years following the Dobb’s leak, listing 39 attacks against churches, 67 against PRCs and 24 other related incidents.
Yet, when pressed with overwhelmingly lopsided numbers, Clarke replied, “[T]he division is committed to even handed enforcement of the FACE Act,” while adding she couldn’t address “what happened in prior administrations.”
Reverend James Harden, whose pro-life pregnancy center was firebombed last year, believes the DOJ and the FBI are intentionally “slow walking” investigations of violence against pro-life groups.
“The pro-abortion attacks on pro-life groups point to something deeper,” he told The Lion in October. “The FBI and DOJ slow-walked investigations and refused to indict terrorists targeting pro-life groups for destruction.”
Indeed, FBI director Christopher Wray faced incensed lawmakers in a hearing Tuesday in which the FBI’s targeting of Catholics was being discussed by the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
“Good heavens, director! This is one of the most outrageous targetings,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, told Wray of an FBI memo urging the investigation of so-called “traditional” Catholics. “You have mobilized your division, the most powerful law enforcement division in the world … and you have just told us you have not fired a single person.”
Monday, the committee released a damning report, concluding “…the FBI singled out Americans who are pro-life, pro-family, and support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction as potential domestic terrorists.”
One of the most notable examples of what the committee called an “abuse of power” involved the home-raid by the FBI of pro-life advocate Mark Houck, who was arrested in September 2022 for an incident the year before which involved an altercation between an abortion clinic “escort” and his son.
Charged with a FACE Act violation, a jury acquitted him in January 2023. Houck has since filed a lawsuit against the DOJ for “malicious and retaliatory prosecution,” and is running for Congress.
In Tuesday’s House hearing with Clarke, she was asked specifically about Houck’s case.
“And importantly, Mark Houck, who was targeted, had a raid of his home, prosecuted under this, was acquitted by a jury!” Roy told Clarke, before asking, “Have you apologized to him on behalf of the Department of Justice for that grave violation of his civil rights? Having his family have to watch him being raided at his home? And then he’s acquitted by a federal jury. Have you apologized to him?”
Clarke evaded the question, saying only, “We follow the facts and apply the law, that is our job…”
“So the answer to that is no,” Roy replied.
Houck later confirmed on social media he has received no such apology.
Family Research Council, whose data was cited by Roy in the hearing, thanked the congressman for his attention to the issue.
“Rep. Roy is right,” the organization posted on X. “The civil rights of pro-lifers and Christians matter too, and crimes against them warrant the attention of the Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division.”