Lawmakers renew calls to repeal the FACE Act

PAAU activists hold a rally outside Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C., May 4, 2022. PAAU activists hold a rally outside Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C., May 4, 2022. | Credit: Katie Yoder/CNA

As seven pro-lifers were sentenced to years in prison for their efforts to rescue unborn babies from a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic, several lawmakers renewed their calls to repeal the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. 

Lawmakers are claiming that the FACE Act, which was used to convict and sentence the pro-life activists, is being abused by the Biden Department of Justice to target and punish pro-lifers. 

Here is what’s going on in the pro-life fight this week. 

‘Biden’s two-tiered justice system’ 

After pro-life activist Lauren Handy and several other pro-lifers were sentenced to years in prison this week under the FACE Act, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, called for the measure to be repealed, saying: “It’s time to pull the plug on Biden’s two-tiered justice system.” 

Signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, the FACE Act prohibits obstructing access to or destruction of abortion clinics, pregnancy centers, or church property. The law has been criticized by several lawmakers for being unevenly applied against pro-life activists.

Roy urged House and Senate Republicans to advance a bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that would repeal the FACE Act. 

“Today’s outrageous 57-month sentence for a progressive pro-life activist is a stark reminder: Biden’s DOJ is fully weaponized against pro-life American citizens, and they are using the FACE Act to do it,” Roy said.

Meanwhile, Lee said that “unequal enforcement of the law is a violation of the law, and men and women who try to expose the horrors of abortion are being unjustly persecuted for their motivations.” 

“The Biden administration is using the FACE Act to give pro-life activists and senior citizens lengthy prison terms for nonviolent offenses and protests — all while turning a blind eye to the violence, arson, and riots conducted on behalf of ‘approved’ leftist causes,” Lee told the Daily Signal. 

Martin Cannon, an attorney with the Thomas More Society, which represented Handy, told CNA that the Biden DOJ’s “overreach” through the FACE Act will likely “galvanize the pro-life world” and motivate lawmakers to repeal the measure.

Handy received an almost-five-year sentence for being the organizer of the Washington demonstration. In addition to Handy, six other pro-lifers — John Hinshaw, 69, William Goodman, 54, Herb Geraghty, 27, Jonathan Darnel, 42, Jean Marshall, 74, and Joan Bell, 76 — also received FACE Act sentences ranging from 10 months to over two years. 

Arizona Supreme Court blocks law protecting life

The Supreme Court of Arizona on Monday issued a 90-day block on enforcement of the state’s law protecting life at conception. 

This comes after Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a bill to repeal the pro-life measure on May 2. Though the repeal bill was signed into law it will not take effect until 90 days after the Arizona legislative session ends. 

Dormant since being invalidated by Roe v. Wade in 1973, the pro-life law was originally passed in 1864. The measure protects all unborn life from conception and imposes prison time for those who “provide, supply, or administer” an abortion. 

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On April 8, the Arizona high court ruled that since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe in the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson decision, there were no legal reasons to keep the law from being enforced.

A new constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to abortion will likely be on the ballot in Arizona this November.

Telehealth abortions now account for 1 in 5 abortions

A new “We Count Report” by the Society of Family Planning found that telehealth abortions accounted for nearly 1 in 5 U.S. abortions toward the end of 2023. 

A telehealth abortion is a chemical abortion administered remotely through an online appointment. 

With an average of 17,000 telehealth abortions per month October through December, the study found that this type of abortion represented 18% of all abortions in October 2023, 19% in November, and 19% in December.

According to the Society of Family Planning, there were an average of 5,800 telehealth abortions per month in states with laws protecting unborn babies at all stages or starting at six weeks. The Society of Family Planning said that the abortions were enabled by abortion “shield laws” protecting providers from prosecution for providing chemical abortion in states where it is prohibited or restricted. 

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This follows another Guttmacher Institute report finding that chemical abortions now account for 63% of all U.S. abortions. 

Louisiana may declare abortion pills ‘controlled dangerous substances’ 

The Louisiana House advanced a bill to increase criminal penalties for forcing or coercing women to take abortion pills. The House also added an amendment to declare abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol “controlled dangerous substances” under the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. 

The bill has already been passed by the state Senate and is set for debate on the House floor on May 20. 

Louisiana protects unborn life at all stages of pregnancy through laws banning surgical and chemical abortion. Louisiana allows exceptions for abortion in cases when the mother’s life or health is at risk and when the unborn child is not expected to survive the pregnancy. 

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