The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted eight individuals under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE act,) where they are accused of obstructing the entrance of the Northland Family Planning Clinic in Michigan. The defendants were charged with engaging in a civil rights conspiracy and blocking the Northland Family Planning Clinic entrance in Sterling Heights, Michigan, in August 2020. The FACE Act criminalizes the use of force or threats to interfere with a person seeking reproductive health services, and violations can result in up to 11 years in prison and $350,000 in fines.
The FACE Act criminalizes the use or threat of force to “injure, intimidate, or interfere” with someone seeking an abortion. Some argue that this infringes on Americans’ right to protest since protests are often allowed in the same vicinity as the subject of the protest. This is one of many prosecutions of abortion clinic protesters carried out by the DOJ, and has sparked criticism from conservative activists and Republicans who say the agency is not dealing even-handedly.
The DOJ would go on to say in a statement:
“…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.”
One of the defendants allegedly promoted the clinic blockade on social media and live-streamed the event. The prosecution is led by the DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District in Michigan. This announcement follows the DOJ’s recent prosecutions of over 30 pro-life protesters, including the indictment of Mark Houck for FACE Act violations. Conservatives and Pro-Life activists have accused the DOJ of being biased towards pro-choice individuals, citing cases such as this, where a peaceful protestor could potentially face over a decade in jail. Meanwhile, those who participated in the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots have not been subjected to the same possibility of facing up to a decade in jail solely for their decision to protest, regardless of the level of violence or use of hateful language during the protest, or their level of involvement in promoting the protest.
Rep. Chip Roy, (R-Texas) told Fox News in a statement:
“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,”
“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.”