The Biden administration is “weaponizing” the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act to go after pro-life activists, an attorney who served under George W. Bush and Barack Obama told the Daily Caller.
“The left is out for blood, and Biden’s base is demanding prosecutions and the DOJ is providing them,” said Roger Severino, who served as an attorney at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division, the same division that enforces the FACE Act. (RELATED: DOJ Charges 11 Pro-Life Activists For Blocking Abortion Clinic, Threatens Massive Prison Sentences)
The Biden administration has charged at least 16 pro-life activists with a maximum of 11 years in prison for alleged violations of the act, which prohibits obstructing people seeking reproduction services. Pro-life activist Mark Houck allegedly pushed an abortion escort to the ground after a verbal confrontation. FBI agents swarmed Houck’s house and took him away at gunpoint months after the initial charges against him were dropped.
The DOJ charged the other 15 pro-lifers with allegedly obstructing entrances of abortion clinics and they face a maximum of 11 years in prison, when, under the law, first time violators of the FACE Act usually face a maximum of six months. (RELATED: Biden DOJ Trying To ‘Intimidate People Of Faith,’ Says Lawyer For Pro-Life Activist Arrested By FBI)
Past administrations have issued multi-year prison sentences for violations of the FACE Act in cases of a fatal shooting, death threats, and damaging an abortion clinic with a Molotov cocktail, while people obstructing entrances to abortion clinics faced monetary fines and restraining orders.
Houck is being charged with the decade-long version of the FACE Act violation because the abortion escort “scraped his arm,” his attorney Peter Breen told the Daily Caller. “The charges shouldn’t apply at all, but even if they did, he’s being overcharged.”
“It’s outrageous that you would take a six-month misdemeanor … and turn it into a 10-year federal felony,” Breen added.
One of the other pro-lifers facing over a decade in prison, Paul Vaughn, never blocked the door of an abortion clinic, but was standing nearby, Breen claimed.
Video of the FBI’s arrest of Paul Vaughn of Centerville, Tennessee. DOJ charged him with “conspiracy against rights secured by the FACE Act, and committing FACE Act violations” for blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic. Paul tells me the footage was taken by his wife. pic.twitter.com/KSDvLRSrlF
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) October 7, 2022
Severino, who served under both former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2008 to 2015, said he’s “never heard of a charge being so excessive” as the 11-year maximum prison sentence and $350,000 fine put forth by the current administration for allegedly obstructing abortion clinic doors.
“This is law enforcement run amok. The FACE Act had always been enforced very rarely, because the pro-life movement is a movement of peace,” Severino said. “All of a sudden, they are inventing cases and doing sham prosecutions in an election year for purely political purposes to go after their political enemies.”
The DOJ did not respond to an inquiry from the Daily Caller asking if they have comment on whether the Biden administration has used the FACE Act more excessively than previous administrations.
The FACE Act also protects houses of worship and pro-life pregnancy centers, both of which have been firebombed across the country after the Dobbs decision. Thirty-three churches and 54 pregnancy centers have been attacked, according to the Catholic News Service. The DOJ has not prosecuted any cases of destruction against pro-life centers, Severino stressed. (RELATED: Pro-Life Groups Sound The Alarm Over Repeated Attacks, Call Out FBI, DOJ For Not Doing Enough)
The effort to arrest pro-lifers is specifically being pushed before the midterms, Department of Homeland Security official under the Trump administration, Ken Cuccinelli, told the Daily Caller.
“This has nothing to do with public safety. This is political virtue signaling to the radical-left base that has control of this administration,” Cuccinelli said.
“I think it will thoroughly backfire on them. I can’t think of a way they’ll get one more vote because they arrest these people, but I guarantee you, a lot more pro-lifers will come out than might have for the midterm election,” he added.