House Republican Conference chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) released a statement exclusively to Breitbart News after a Tennessee court found six pro-life activists guilty of violating federal law for protesting peacefully at a Nashville abortion clinic in 2021.
“Joe Biden’s Department of Justice would rather target peaceful pro-life protesters partaking in prayer and song than hold real criminals and domestic terrorists who desecrate churches and pregnancy crisis centers accountable,” Stefanik said in the statement.
She added, “This targeted prosecution is emblematic of the DOJ’s concerning history of weaponized attacks against the pro-life movement and open trampling of the First Amendment. Joe Biden and the DOJ’s patterned hostility towards pregnancy crisis centers, Catholics, and the pro-life movement exposes the ingrained corruption and prejudice within this once apolitical federal agency under Joe Biden.”
Although the matter was prosecuted locally, the Biden Justice Department decided to pursue charges against the six protesters for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The activists were found guilty of “conspiracy against rights” and are facing ten-and-a-half years in prison and fines of up to $260,000.
According to the DOJ, the FACE Act “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive healthcare services,” while conspiracy against rights — a charge that carries a maximum ten-year prison sentence — “makes it unlawful for two or more persons to agree to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in the United States in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States or because of his or her having exercised such a right.”
Republicans in the House and Senate are working to repeal the FACE Act.
As Breitbart News’s Katherine Hamilton reported, 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 FBI Director Christopher Wray admitting in November 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.
In December 2022, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also admitted 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.”
Out of dozens of attacks on pregnancy centers since the Dobbs leak, only a handful of pro-abortion activists have been arrested, including in Florida, New York, and Ohio.
When questioned by Republicans in March 2023 about the apparent enforcement discrepancy, Attorney General Merrick Garland claimed more pro-life activists have been prosecuted because they commit crimes “during the daylight,” while pro-abortion activists tend to strike at night.