Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, asked Garland to account for a disparity in the number of prosecutions of pro-life activists and pro-abortion activists under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The FACE Act made it a federal crime to impede access to a pro-life pregnancy center or abortion clinic.
Lee noted that there have been 81 reported attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers “and only two individuals have been charged” with violating the FACE Act. Meanwhile, he said, 34 pro-life activists have been charged for blocking access to or vandalizing abortion clinics.
Garland acknowledged the disparity in prosecutions and attributed it to pro-life activists’ tendency to operate openly, in the light of day.
“There are many more prosecutions with respect to the blocking of the abortion centers, but that is generally because those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight and seeing the person who did it is quite easy,” Garland responded.
“Those who are attacking the pregnancy resource centers, which is a horrid thing to do, are doing this at night in the dark. We have put full resources on this. We have put rewards out for this,” he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, contrasted the lack of prosecutions involving crimes against pro-life pregnancy centers with the FBI’s arrest of Mark Houck, a pro-life activist charged by the FBI for allegedly violating the FACE Act but acquitted on all counts.
“Two dozen agents clad in body armor and ballistic helmets and shields and a battering ram showed up at his house pointing rifles at his family,” Cruz said.
Garland responded by stating “the decisions about how to do that are made at the level of the FBI agents on scene” and “my understanding is the FBI disagrees with that description.”