As eight pro-life activists sit in a Washington, DC, jail, Republicans have proposed repealing the Freedom of Access to Clinics (FACE) Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.”
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) introduced legislation on Tuesday to repeal the FACE Act, a federal law he says was designed to protect abortion facilities but has instead been weaponized by President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) to target pro-life activists. The bill has 25 Republican cosponsors, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will lead companion legislation in the Senate.
“Free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs. 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,” Roy said in a statement. “Our Constitution separates power between the federal government and the states for a reason, and we ignore that safeguard at our own peril. The FACE Act is an unconstitutional federal takeover of state police powers; it must be repealed.”
“The Constitution reserves general police power to the states, which Congress infringed upon when it passed the FACE Act,” Lee added. “Joe Biden’s DOJ has weaponized this constitutionally dubious law against pro-life sidewalk counselors while failing to protect pregnancy centers and churches from arson, vandalism, and violence. It’s time to repeal the FACE Act once and for all.”
Roy’s office noted that the FACE Act made national news after pro-life activist Mark Houck was allegedly held at gunpoint and arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last year, citing the FACE Act in relation to a pushing incident outside of an abortion facility. Houck was found not guilty, with the judge in the case asking the prosecution whether the FACE Act did not “seem to be stretched a little thin here.”
More recently, eight pro-life activists were found guilty of violating the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights for seeking to prevent abortions by blocking the entrance of a D.C. abortion clinic in 2020, and are in jail while they await sentencing. The activists, many of whom are with Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), face a “maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000,” according to the DOJ.
BREAKING: Pro life activists Jean Marshall (73) and Joan Bell (74) were just convicted for blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic and now face 11 years in prison.
It's good to see the Biden DOJ removing these hardened criminals from our streets. pic.twitter.com/W4Pysg2xoy
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 18, 2023
Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the DOJ has notably charged more pro-life activists under the FACE Act than pro-abortion activists, despite the fact that FBI director Christopher Wray admitted last November that approximately 70 percent of abortion-related threats of violence in the United States since the Dobbs decision have been against pro-life groups.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also admitted in December in remarks at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s 65th Anniversary that the end of Roe v.Wade dialed up “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work, including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
Buffalo, N.Y.: The local office for pregnancy resource center CompassCare was firebombed & destroyed in an attack on June 7. "Jane was here" was written, referencing #antifa terrorist group Jane's Revenge. The group's manifesto promises more attacks. https://t.co/yRgIy9NwPZ pic.twitter.com/4iilspFBdA
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) June 7, 2022
Roy’s office noted that the FACE Act had never been used to indict individuals related to an attack on a pro-life pregnancy center prior to this year when the DOJ indicted four pro-abortion activists for attacks on Florida pro-life pregnancy centers. In contrast, the DOJ indicted more than 30 individuals in 2022 under the FACE Act in relation to abortion facilities, according to the Civil Rights Division.
The FACE Act has also never been used by the federal government to protect houses of worship, even though there have been more than 350 attacks on Catholic churches documented since the Dobbs decision was leaked in May 2020.
27-year-old Caleb Freestone and 23-year-old Amber Smith-Stewart have been indicted on federal charges for attacking anti-abortion facilities in Florida over the course of three months, including this Archdiocese of Miami Office of Respect Life facility in Hollywood, Florida. pic.twitter.com/pLBgweGHKV
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) January 24, 2023
The legislation is supported by prominent conservative and pro-life groups including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Thomas More Society, Family Research Council, Students for Life Action, Catholic Vote, Live Action, and Citizens for Renewing America.
“This egregious abuse of government power must stop,” said Andrew Bath, executive vice president and general counsel of the Thomas More Society, which is representing one of the eight pro-life activists recently found guilty. “The FACE Act has been weaponized by this administration. 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.”
PAAU executive director Caroline Taylor Smith also released a statement via email supporting the bill.
“I am thrilled to be able to share the fruit of our labor in the efforts to repeal the unconstitutional FACE Act. This is a monumental step towards justice for our pre-born siblings and Rescuers alike. The FACE Act has been flying under the radar for decades, and only now when it has been truly challenged, has the truth about it come to light,” Smith said. “Those fighting to sustain abortion violence and their allies in The White House will never be able to stop the Rescue movement, because Rescue is love, and the pre-born have a right to be Rescued. Oppression will always backfire.”
Smith also accused abortionist Dr. Cesare Santangelo, who works at the Washington Surgi-Clinic (the site of the 2020 blockade), of committing “infanticide.” The DOJ indicted the activists for the 2020 blockade just five days after PAAU activist Lauren Handy and PAAU’s founder and former executive director Terrisa Bukovinac allegedly discovered the remains of approximately 115 aborted babies in a waste box from the Washington Surgi-Clinic on March 25, 2022, five of whom they say may have been partially aborted or killed after birth in violation of federal law.
The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia told Breitbart News this month that it is investigating the discovery of the babies but not the clinic’s abortionist.
“The truth is Cesare Santangelo commits infanticide, and those working to expose that cannot and will not be silenced, even with the power of the federal government on our heels,” Smith alleged. “The FACE Act must be repealed, and I am proud to stand next to anyone who will support nonviolent means of achieving justice for all.”
The bill’s text states that the repeal of the FACE Act “shall apply to any prosecution of an offense that is pending on, or commenced on or after, the date of enactment.”