Pro-life activist Paul Vaughn, who was convicted on federal charges for his role in a protest at a Tennessee abortion clinic, has been sentenced to three years of supervised release — but he did not receive prison time or any fines.

The July 2 sentencing stemmed from Vaughn’s conviction of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which imposes penalties for obstructing access to services provided at abortion clinics or pregnancy centers. He was convicted of conspiracy to prevent clinic employees from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services, according to the U.S. Department of Justice

Prosecutors unsuccessfully sought a one-year prison sentence for Vaughn for a demonstration at an abortion clinic in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, on March 5, 2021. In a statement issued through his attorneys at the Thomas More Society, Vaughn said he planned to appeal the conviction and accused the Department of Justice of misusing the FACE Act to convict pro-life activists. 

“We must stand and fight for what is right; we cannot bow down to the lie,” Vaughn said. “Laws have to be grounded in truth, they have to align with the ultimate lawgiver, who is Christ Our Lord. The false narratives plaguing our nation will fall when we stand up to them. That is what this case is about and I’m ever thankful to have a legal team who understands that truth and who is willing to fight for it all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

Steve Crampton, who serves as senior counsel at the Thomas More Society and as Vaughn’s attorney, said he is “pleased the judge has shown leniency” to his client but accused President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice of weaponizing the FACE Act “against its ideological opponents.” 

“The weaponized and evidence-free charges brought here by the Biden Department of Justice against peaceful pro-lifers should have never been filed,” Crampton said. “The event for which the Biden Department of Justice targeted Paul and his fellow pro-lifers was a peaceful demonstration by entirely peaceable citizens — filled with prayer, hymn-singing, and worship — and oriented toward persuading expecting mothers not to abort their babies.”

Vaughn was one of 11 pro-life activists convicted of FACE Act violations for the demonstration at the Mt. Juliet abortion clinic. One of the activists, Caroline Davis, took a plea deal and testified against her fellow activists — she received three years of probation. The other activists, who did not take plea deals, could face up to 10 and a half years in prison.

Under the Biden administration, pro-life activists were also charged with FACE Act violations for a protest at an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., in October 2022. The longest sentence was given to Lauren Handy, who received more than four and a half years in prison. Several other activists received more than one year in prison.

Less than two weeks ago, former President Donald Trump — the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 U.S. presidential election — criticized the prosecution of pro-life activists and said if he is elected again, he will “get them out of the gulags and back to their families where they belong.”