Merrick Garland Says DOJ Has Prosecuted More Pro-Lifers Because Attacks Occurred ‘During the Daylight’

Merrick Garland
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland admitted that the Department of Justice [DOJ] has prosecuted more pro-life activists than pro-abortion extremists following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, but blamed the timing of alleged crimes for the discrepancy.

“I will say, you are quite right: there are many more prosecutions with respect to blocking of the abortion centers. But that is generally because those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight, and seeing the person who did it is quite easy,” Garland told Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) during a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. He went on:

Those who are attacking the pregnancy resource centers, which is a horrid thing to do, are doing this at night, in the dark. We have put full resources on this. We have put rewards out for this. The Justice Department and the FBI have made outreach to Catholic and other organizations to ask for their help in identifying the people who are doing this. 

Garland’s comments were in response to a question by Sen. Lee asking if the DOJ has unevenly invoked the FACE Act to go after pro-life activists in the wake of the Dobbs decision — despite the fact the most abortion-related attacks following the decision have been against pro-life organizations and churches. Lee posed the question:

In 2022, and for the first couple of months of 2023, the DOJ announced charges against 34 individuals for blocking access to or vandalizing abortion clinics. And there have been over 81 reported attacks on pregnancy centers  — 130 attacks on Catholic churches since the leak of the Dobbs decision, and only two individuals have been charged. So how do you explain this disparity by reference to anything other than politicization of what’s happening there? 

Garland further told Lee that the FACE Act, which outlaws “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services,” applies equally to pro-life pregnancy resource clinics and abortion clinics.

“We will prosecute every case against a pregnancy resource center that we can make. But these people who are doing this are clever and are doing it in secret. And I am convinced that the FBI is trying to find them with urgency,” he added. 

Lee’s line of questioning came after America endured a “Summer of Rage,” which included — according to estimates by CatholicVote —130 attacks of Catholic Churches and 81 attacks against pregnancy centers and pro-life groups since the leak of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Many of the attacks, which included fire-bombings and vandalism, were claimed by a group called “Jane’s Revenge.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray previously admitted during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing in November of 2022 that approximately 70 percent of abortion-related threats of violence in the United States since the Dobbs decision have been against pro-life groups. However, he too denied that the FBI and DOJ are unevenly enforcing the law. Wray said:

We don’t have the time for me to tell how frustrated I sometimes get by some of the news reporting about our work and the misreporting of our work. The circumspection that we display with regard to discussing our investigations is based on rules and practices that are important to people having confidence in the integrity of our work and go back decades, multiple administrations.

The FBI notably waited several months after a wave of attacks against pro-life pregnancy centers to offer $25,000 rewards to anyone who can provide information leading to arrest and conviction of suspects.


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