Four more pro-life activists convicted under FACE Act

department of justice Credit: Shutterstock

Four pro-life activists have been convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and now face prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.

According to a Department of Justice statement released on Wednesday, the pro-lifers face a “maximum of six months in prison, five years of supervised release, and fines of up to $10,000.” 

The four activists — Eva Edl, 87; Eva Zastro, 24; James Zastro, 25; and Paul Place, 24 — were convicted of FACE Act violations in federal court on Tuesday for a protest held at a Tennessee abortion clinic in March 2021.

Edl is a well-known pro-life activist and a survivor of a communist concentration camp who fled Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe.

In January, six individuals involved in the same protest were convicted of violating the FACE Act.

The latest conviction was issued by a federal judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, according to the DOJ statement. 

The statement said the judge determined that the “evidence presented at trial proved that the defendants violated the FACE Act by using physical obstruction over the course of several hours to interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient.”

“These defendants positioned themselves directly in front of the main clinic door for over two hours, physically blocking access to the clinic, resulting in no patients accessing the clinic. Police requested that the defendants leave or move multiple times, but after more than two hours, these defendants were arrested,” the statement said.

The protest took place at Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. Captured extensively on video, the four activists along with several other pro-lifers stood in front of the abortion clinic’s doors while singing Christian hymns and chanting prayers.

Police in the video can be seen demanding they leave the building and while some do, others refuse.

Passed in 1994, the federal FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”

The federal government announced in October 2022 that it had charged 11 of the individuals involved in the Mt. Juliet protest under the FACE Act. In January six other pro-life activists were charged with both misdemeanor and criminal FACE Act violations for the same protest and are currently facing possibly 11 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

The four convicted this week are the latest in a growing list of pro-lifers being prosecuted for FACE Act violations under the Biden administration.

There is an ongoing effort, led by Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy, to repeal the FACE Act because it has been “weaponized” by the Biden administration against pro-lifers. Opponents of the law point out that though churches and pregnancy centers are also protected under the FACE Act there have only been four people charged for attacks on churches and pregnancy centers in the last year, despite over 100 attacks taking place. 

Some commentators, such as Evita Duffy-Alfonso, who is a producer for the conservative “The Dan Bongino Show,” have pointed out that the pro-Palestine, environmental protestors who disrupted the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Saturday violated the FACE Act but are not being prosecuted for it.

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“The pro-Palestine lunatics who interrupted Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this week are in clear violation of the law. Do you think the DOJ will go after them? Of course not,” Duffy-Alfonso said on X.

In response to Tuesday’s convictions, Roy renewed his call to repeal the FACE Act, saying in a Wednesday X post that Congress should pass his bill repealing the law “immediately.”

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