The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –
For pro-life advocates living in a post-Roe America, defending the lives of the unborn has proven to be an even more difficult task than it was when the precedent still stood.
Since the Dobbs decision came down, changing what the abortion industry has looked like for a generation, pro-life advocates have found themselves targeted by the Biden Department of Justice.
In 1994, then President Bill Clinton signed into law The Freedom of Access To Clinic Entrances Act. The act indicates that anyone who uses an act, or threat of an act of physical force against anyone who is trying to enter a facility to obtain an abortion, OR and this is key, does the same to anyone who is there to exercise their 1st Amendment right of religious freedom, is in violation of the FACE Act.
A violation can carry a maximum criminal penalty of 10 years, and $250,000 regardless of whether or not it is a first offense, if the offense causes injury.
In 2021 a pro-life group visited Carafem, a Mt. Juliet abortion provider. The group stood on the sidewalks outside the clinic, prayed and did their best to try and peacefully dissuade expectant mothers from obtaining an abortion. They drew a bit of ire from the Mt. Juliet police, who issued citations for trespassing, but essentially respected the group’s right to be there and conduct themselves as they were.
Fast forward to just after the overturning of Roe this past fall, and nearly a year after their visit to Carafem, a district court handed down 11 warrants for their arrest, stating a violation of the FACE Act. The allegation is that the group’s leader Chester Ghallagher utilized social media to organize the gathering where it is alleged that the group used “intimidation and force” to block entry to the clinic.
As reported last year by The Tennessee Conservative, seven of those individuals face charges for conspiracy, with the maximum penalties mentioned above. Those charged with misdemeanors would face as much as one year in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
While the FACE Act allows arrest, fining and jailing of anyone who uses force or intimidation on those who are seeking to obtain an abortion, the act also allows the very same penalties for those looking to commit acts of violence or intimidation on those who are exercising their religious freedom, and yet you never see or hear of any investigations in such matters.
Since just May of 2020, there have been 140 incidents of arson, and graffiti of Catholic churches, and 24 attacks on pro-life organization offices and pregnancy resource non-profit clinics in the wake of the leak that occurred on May 2nd of 2022 that the Dobbs decision would likely overturn Roe. Republicans in Congress have asked for the DOJ to investigate based on the same legislation being used against the pro-life movement, yet no discernable actions have taken place.
On this past Friday, pro-life advocate Mark Houck had a deadlocked jury, in a case where he was charged with 2 felony counts, was acquitted of those charges Monday afternoon, after an alternate juror was brought in to see if the deadlock could be broken. According to witnesses, within an hour of their arrival there was a unanimous “not guilty” verdict.
Houck, was taken into custody at his home in Bucks County PA, in front of his wife and 7 children, by the FBI, who based on video of the arrest, showed up to his home with multiple agents, in swat style gear. Houck went with the agents peacefully. He was charged with two counts of violation of The FACE act, which could have meant up to 11 years in prison and a $350,000 fine.
According to Houck’s defense, he was involved in a confrontation with an abortion activist, when they became demonstrably aggressive with Houck’s 12 year old son, who was accompanying him that day. The activist involved in the confrontation had engaged in a failed lawsuit against Houck, before the DOJ decided to press charges against him.
While it appears the system eventually worked as it was supposed to for Mark Houck, the question remains whether it will do the same for those who now, and in the future, find themselves as the target of what appears to be vengeful prosecution by the Biden DOJ.
About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member. Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty.