Biden DOJ’s Response To Pregnancy Center Attacks Shows ‘Double Standard,’ Pro-Life Advocates And Legal Experts Say


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Kate Anderson Contributor
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  • Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, pro-life organizations have been attacked over a hundred times and advocates and legal experts who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a “double standard” by failing to act on the situation. 
  • In May, the DOJ announced a list of 34 cases where the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act had been used to charge individuals who attacked reproductive health clinics, but only one of them was for a pro-life pregnancy center, while the rest were for abortion clinics.
  • “Yes, without hesitation it is a double standard,” Rev. Jim Harden, president of the pro-life organization CompassCare, told the DCNF. 

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, pregnancy centers, churches and abortion clinics have been hit with a wave of violence, but pro-life advocates and legal experts who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation raised concerns that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is applying a “double standard” when investigating these crimes.

Over 100 churches, pregnancy centers and their staff have been firebombed, vandalized, graffitied, assaulted and intimidated since the leak of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs opinion in May 2022, according to a May 2023 report from the Family Research Center. Yet the DOJ has failed to use the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services” and places of religious worship, to charge the individuals responsible, despite going after dozens of incidents targeting abortion clinics, according to advocates and legal experts that spoke with the DCNF. (RELATED: Woman Sentenced For Setting Fire To Red State Abortion Clinic)

“We have well over 300 churches, Catholic churches, that have been everything from firebombed, robbed and spray painted, alongside pregnancy care centers as well,” Tom McClusky, CatholicVote’s director of Government Affairs, told the DCNF. “And I believe the only time that the FACE Act has been used is for some people down in Florida and the Justice Department will not verify a [Freedom Of Information Act] request asking how many times has this been used.”

Rev. Jim Harden, president of the pro-life organization CompassCare, which was firebombed by pro-abortion activists in 2022, told the DCNF that he believed “without hesitation” the DOJ’s behavior “is a double standard.” He also noted the recent conviction of a woman, who spray-painted “LIARS” on one of the organization’s signs in New York’s Erie County.

“We got a conviction out of Erie County, a bonafide FACE Act violation, for the second attack on our medical facility, and the DOJ does not indict,” Harden said. “It does qualify for a FACE Act violation, so you can bet your bottom dollar that if this graffiti happened at an abortion clinic and they found the perpetrator the DOJ would be all over it and it would be all over the news.”

The department released a list of 34 criminal and civil charges brought under the FACE Act in May going back to 2011, according to its website. Only one of these incidents involved an attack on a pro-life pregnancy clinic in Florida, while the other 33 were regarding acts of intimidation, vandalism, graffiti, arson and assault against abortion clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, all across the country.

Broken windows are boarded up behind a spray-painted sign at Mother and Child Education Center in Portland, Oregon, on June 26, 2022, after the property was vandalized by demonstrators the night of June 25, 2022.  (Photo by JOHN RUDOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Most recently, a jury convicted multiple pro-life activists after they were charged by the DOJ for chaining up the entrance of the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C., in 2020 to prevent abortions from taking place. The department also charged Catholic father Mark Houck of violating the act in 2022 after an abortion clinic volunteer accused Houck of assaulting him, but a jury acquitted him of all charges in January.

This goes beyond a “double standard” and shows how “politically active” the department has become, according to Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, who also testified on this issue before the Senate Judicial Committee in May.

“Someone had come out of the clinic and put his hands on Mark’s son and that’s what he reacted to,” Dys told the DCNF. “But [Houck] was arrested for intimidating and interfering with access to a reproductive health facility; that’s absurd and why the jury tossed it out. So for the prosecution to bring a case they knew was going to get tossed out on its ear, I think speaks to how politically active the DOJ is on the issue of the FACE Act. They won’t use it where real violence has occurred, but they do use it where it suits their political objectives.”

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz asked Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Senate Judiciary Committee in May why the DOJ was not locating and charging the perpetrators of violence against churches and pregnancy clinics, to which Garland replied that it was hard to find them because the crimes happened “in the dark,” according to The New York Post.

“Those who are attacking the pregnancy resource centers, which is a horrid thing to do, are doing this at night, in the dark,” Garland said. “These people who are doing it are clever and are doing it in secret. I am convinced that the FBI is trying to find them with urgency.”

Garland’s comments were ironic considering the DOJ had no issue finding many of the individuals who attacked abortion clinics in a matter of days or weeks, according to Harden.

“Kristen Clarke,the Assistant U.S. Attorney General under Garland said in a press release that ‘we’re going to continue to protect reproductive health centers,'” Harden said. “What does she mean by reproductive health? Now, she clearly doesn’t mean pro-life-reproductive health centers, because if that were the case, then they would have had a manhunt looking for these people [who are making a] concerted nationwide effort to shut down pro-life pregnancy centers.”

The House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Clarke on Sept. 15, requesting that the department explain its “double standard” that “robustly protects pro-abortion activists and facilities, while essentially ignoring attacks on pro-life advocates, facilities, and churches.” The committee noted that the dismissive attitude from the DOJ bore a “striking resemblance” to its failure to enforce the law when protestors were demonstrating outside of the homes of Supreme Court Justices Roberts, Kavanaugh and Barrett.

“They simply choose to enforce the FACE Act where it benefits their political agenda,” Thomas Jipping, a senior legal fellow for the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, explained to the DCNF. “And they do so in unbelievably excessive ways … It shouldn’t matter what your politics are and shouldn’t matter whether you’re pro-life or pro-abortion.”

The DOJ did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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