The Daily Signal first reported Wednesday on the footage showing the agents, identified as Ashley Roberts and Kathleen Brown, visiting the childhood home of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) member Elise Ketch on April 18 at approximately 2:45 P.M. Though Ketch no longer resides in the Woodbridge, Virginia, house, her mother, Tracy Ketch, spoke with the agents who were looking for her daughter.
“My colleague at Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, Lauren Handy, is indicted under the FACE [Freedom of Access Clinic Entrances] Act and is being prosecuted by the federal government. It’s plausible that these FBI agents aimed to collect information from me to help build their case against her,” Ketch explained.
Ketch began working for the PAAU back in December after previously volunteering for them. Most recently, Ketch was arrested in March with her fellow pro-life activists for blocking traffic after protesting in front of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The protest revolved around the discovery of the bodies of five unborn fetuses in a medical waste bin outside the Washington SurgiClinic, which performs abortions, one year prior.
While Ketch was concerned for her family’s safety following the incident, she stated, “I refuse to back down.”
The raid allegedly stemmed from an altercation Houck had with a Planned Parenthood escort back in October 2021. While the Philadelphia Police Department confirmed the event, Houck was not arrested. By May 2022, however, he received a letter from the Justice Department stating that he was being investigated for potentially violating the FACE Act.
The recent visit by FBI agents to the home of pro-life advocate Elise Ketch has raised concerns about the potential targeting and intimidation of individuals who advocate for the sanctity of life. Some pro-life advocates argue that the FACE Act, which has been used in the past to silence pro-life voices, may have played a role in this incident. Ketch’s involvement with the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising and the ongoing prosecution of her colleague Lauren Handy under the FACE Act appear to be factors that led to the agents’ visit. While the agents assured Ketch’s mother that no trouble was imminent, the lack of further communication from the FBI and their reluctance to provide detailed information give rise to suspicions of alleged intimidation tactics.
Enacted in 1994, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act is a federal law in the United States. Its purpose is to prevent the use of force, threats, physical obstruction, intentional property damage, or destruction to impede access to reproductive health clinics, including those offering abortion services. The FACE Act seeks to safeguard the rights of patients and healthcare providers to access and provide reproductive healthcare services without interference or intimidation. Violations of the FACE Act can lead to criminal penalties and civil lawsuits.
Critics of the FACE Act, particularly pro-life advocates, argue that it encroaches upon free speech and the right to peaceful protest. They contend that the Act restricts their ability to express their beliefs and engage in peaceful demonstrations near abortion clinics. Their aim is not to harm or obstruct individuals seeking abortion services but to offer alternative options, support, and information. Proponents of the pro-life stance maintain that peaceful protests and sidewalk counseling are protected forms of speech and expression, and the FACE Act unduly curtails these rights. They may further assert that the Act is disproportionately enforced or selectively used to target pro-life activists, thereby infringing upon their constitutional rights. These arguments seek to protect the freedom of pro-life individuals to express their beliefs and engage in peaceful advocacy for the protection of unborn lives.