Pro-life advocates could face 11-year prison terms for prayer protest at abortion clinic after Biden DOJ charges, conviction

Six defendants face up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $260,000 after being convicted for protests at a Tennessee abortion clinic, according to the Biden Department of Justice…

Six defendants face up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $260,000 after being convicted for protests at a Tennessee abortion clinic, according to the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ).

Chester Gallagher, Heather Idoni, Calvin Zastrow, Coleman Boyd, Paul Vaughn and Dennis Green were convicted of federal conspiracy charges under the FACE Act, said the DOJ.

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.

Critics have accused the Biden administration of using the FACE Act to attack peaceful pro-life protestors, while ignoring violence from pro-abortion activists against pro-life pregnancy centers and against the religious in general. 

“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 in December, when he grilled a DOJ official 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. 

Steve Crampton, Thomas More Society Senior Counsel and attorney for one of the protestors in this latest case, said an appeal is planned. 

“We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome,” said Crampton, who represents Paul Vaughn. “This was a peaceful demonstration by entirely peaceable citizens—filled with prayer, hymn-singing, and worship—oriented toward persuading expecting mothers not to abort their babies. Unfortunately, the Biden Department of Justice decided to characterize Paul Vaughn’s peaceful actions as a felony ‘conspiracy against rights,’ to intimidate and punish Paul and other pro-life people and people of faith.” 

The prosecution stems from a peaceful protest in March 2021 at the Carafem Health Center in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.

“The Biden Department of Justice’s pattern of arresting and prosecuting peaceful pro-life advocates is disturbing,” added Crampton, contrasting the Biden administration’s pursuit of pro-lifers with its much softer approach to religiously motivated attacks on churches and pregnancy resource centers. 

For example, one pro-life pregnancy center, CompassCare in Amherst, New York, was firebombed by radical pro-abortionist group “Jane’s Revenge” in June 2022, according to Catholic Vote News (CVN).   

“At least two firefighters were injured in the ensuing fire, which also caused over $500,000 in damages and forced the facility to close for over three months,” said CVN. The facility was later attacked by vandals.  

In the ensuing months, the FBI and local authorities have made no headway in identifying the perpetrators. 

In an email to The Lion, CompassCare CEO James Harden accused the Biden FBI and DOJ of slow-walking investigations into crimes against pro-lifers. 

Amherst City attorney Stanley J. Sliwa seemingly blamed pro-life groups with “guns” and bombs for causing violence, according to an interview with The Epoch Times. 

“You’re aware of all the nut jobs out there with guns and AK-47s, bombing and killing people because they have certain political views,” Sliwa said. “The police department is trying to keep a lid on that and trying to keep the investigation as quiet as possible in order to ensure that these people don’t go further underground, as they may already be.”

When asked to specify which groups of people were doing the bombing and killing, Sliwa said it was “people that are part and parcel of the revolt against the United States government” on Jan. 6, 2021. 

In October 2023, CompassCare filed a civil lawsuit against the people they believe are responsible for the subsequent vandalism at the center.  

“It is ridiculous that as pro-life citizens we are forced to do the job of both the FBI and DOJ,” Harden told The Washington Times. “The FBI refused to investigate so we hired private investigators. The DOJ refuses to indict, so we brought FACE charges.”

Live Action reports the Vaughn conviction “is the fourth recent high-profile federal trial of pro-lifers charged with conspiracy and FACE Act violations for their peaceful activism at abortion facilities.”  

Three other prosecutions have taken place in Washington, D.C.

Pending the outcome of the appeal, Vaughn and the other protestors face sentencing on July 2. 

But regardless of the outcome, Harden told The Lion that if Trump is reelected president, he should pardon all pro-life protestors facing jail time or sentencing and begin an investigation of the DOJ and FBI for failing to prosecute the laws equally.