The Justice Department on Wednesday indicted eight people under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or the FACE Act, for an incident that took place outside an abortion clinic in Michigan in 2020, adding to the growing list of DOJ’s prosecutions of abortion clinic protesters.
According to court documents, the eight defendants were charged with “engaging in a civil rights conspiracy” and with violating the FACE Act by blocking the entrance of the Northland Family Planning Clinic, which offers abortion procedures, in Sterling Heights, Michigan in August 2020.
The FACE Act makes it a federal crime to use or threaten to use force to “injure, intimidate, or interfere” with a person seeking reproductive health services. Convictions of FACE Act violations carry up to 11 years in prison and up to $350,000 in fines.
The indictment alleges that one of the people charged advertised the Sterling Heights clinic “blockade” on social media and livestreamed the incident.
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DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights, led by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, is leading the prosecution, along with the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District in Michigan.
DOJ said “all eight defendants violated the FACE Act by using physical obstruction to intimidate and interfere with the Sterling Heights clinic’s employees and patients, because the clinic’s employees were providing, and the patients were seeking, reproductive health services.”
Wednesday’s announcement comes less than a month after Mark Houck was acquitted by a Pennsylvania jury. Houck is a pro-life protester whom DOJ also charged with FACE Act violations for allegedly pushing a Planned Parenthood escort during a clash outside an abortion clinic in 2021.
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Shortly after Houck’s arrest last fall, his attorney Peter Breen told Fox News Digital that his client’s arrest was an “outrageous abuse of power” from the DOJ that was intended to intimidate pro-life people.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, praised Houck’s acquittal and called for the FACE Act to be repealed.
“Justice has been served, but this brazen exercise in intimidation never should have happened. Mark Houck and his eight children never should have been forced to live through an FBI raid or see their father led away in handcuffs,” Roy told Fox News in a statement.
“Congress must continue oversight of the FACE Act and should consider a full repeal of this eminently abused and clearly weaponized federal usurpation of state police powers,” Roy said. “Congress should also take a hard look at the tens of billions we’re giving to the Department of Justice and exactly how those funds are being used.”
The DOJ and the FBI have come under heavy scrutiny from Republicans and conservative activists who say the agencies aren’t dealing even-handedly, since only two arrests have been made following dozens of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Conversely, DOJ has prosecuted over 30 pro-life protesters over the last year, including Wednesday’s batch.
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“Today’s announcement further confirms that this Administration will spare no expense or resource when it comes to hunting down pro-life Americans,” Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote told Fox News Digital in a statement. “The shame is that they have no interest in equally pursuing pro-abortion domestic criminals that have vandalized and desecrated hundreds of churches and pregnancy care centers. The Department of Justice should not play favorites when enforcing the law, yet that seems to be the new policy.”