Six pro-life supporters have been found guilty in federal court for a peaceful protest at an abortion clinic in Nashville, TN. They each face a maximum of 11 years in prison and fines of up to $260,000.
The charges stem from the pro-life activists’ blockade of Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. On March 5, 2021, the activists blocked entrance to the clinic and began to pray and sing Christian hymns.
Police demanded the activists leave – some complied, while others refused to do so.
You can watch video of the peaceful protest below:
BREAKING: Six pro-life activists were just found guilty in federal court after being prosecuted by Biden's DOJ under the FACE Act for protesting outside a Nashville abortion clinic.
Here's a snippet of the protest, which occurred on March 5, 2021.
For the crime of praying and… pic.twitter.com/UPzZvtZebM
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 30, 2024
In October, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had charged 11 individuals involved in the protest with violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Additionally, seven of them were also charged with “conspiracy against rights.”
The seven individuals include: Chester Gallagher, 73, of Lebanon, Tennessee; Heather Idoni, 58; Calvin Zastrow, 57; and Caroline Davis, 24; all of Michigan; Coleman Boyd, 51, of Bolton, Mississippi; Dennis Green, 56, of Cumberland, Virginia; and Paul Vaughn, 55, of Centerville, Tennessee.
Paul Vaughn was arrested in an early morning raid by heavily armed FBI agents with their guns drawn, who stormed the family’s Tennessee farmhouse, frightening his wife and their seven children (including an 18-month-old). The agents hauled Vaughn away in front of his family.
The four individuals who were charged with only FACE Act violations include: Eva Edl, 87, of Aiken South Carolina; Eva Zastro, 24, of Dover, Arkansas; James Zastro, 25, of Eldon, Missouri; and Paul Place, 24, of Centerville, Tennessee.
According to the DOJ, the seven individuals charged with “conspiracy against rights” face up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
Six of those individuals were on trial this week. They were found guilty on Tuesday. A sentencing hearing has been set for July 2.
It seems nothing-but-ironic for these individuals to have been found guilty of the conspiracy against rights charges, since the U.S. Supreme Court held in 2022 that abortion is not a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
The FACE Act under 18 U.S. Code § 248 says:
[Whoever] by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person because that person is or has been, or in order to intimidate such person or any other person or any class of persons from, obtaining or providing reproductive health services [violates federal law].
Conservative commentator and Daily Wire host Matt Walsh blasted the guilty verdicts on X.
“The Biden Administration is in the process of trying to send six pro-lifers to prison for 11 years for standing peacefully outside of an abortion clinic,” Walsh wrote. “BLM rioters who burned down police stations got significantly less time than that.”
Biden has been waging a war against pro-lifers for his entire term and it’s mostly been ignored even on the Right. Many conservatives have decided to cowardly abandon the fight against abortion, and they have abandoned these victims of political persecution in the process.
Walsh later wrote a second post, pointing out the hypocrisy of the Department of Justice’s argument against the pro-life supporters.
This is incredible. The US attorney prosecuting the pro life activists who were just convicted and face 11 years in prison for peacefully protesting outside of a clinic actually argued in court that there is no such thing as a non-violent crime. Meanwhile the Biden Administration… pic.twitter.com/fY4jtmalhJ
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) January 30, 2024
Following the ruling, Steve Crampton, Thomas More Society Senior Counsel and Vaughn’s attorney, was expected to announce an appeal of the conviction.
“We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome,” Crampton said, adding,
This was a peaceful demonstration by entirely peaceable citizens – filled with prayer, hymn-singing, and worship – oriented toward persuading expecting mothers not to abort their babies.
Unfortunately, the Biden Department of Justice decided to characterize Paul Vaughn’s peaceful actions as a felony “conspiracy against rights,” to intimidate and punish Paul and other pro-life people and people of faith.
“This is a frustrating setback, for Paul, for his family, and for the extended pro-life community, which has rallied support for Paul from the day of his arrest in front of his wife and children by heavily armed FBI agents,” Crampton added. “The Biden Department of Justice’s pattern of arresting and prosecuting peaceful pro-life advocates is disturbing.”
Any appeal of the ruling would be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The Sixth Circuit is generally seen as one of the nation’s more conservative of the 13 federal appellate courts. The court encompasses the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Ten of the judges on the Sixth Circuit were appointed by Republican presidents, while six were appointed by Democrat presidents.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe in 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice has been weaponized against pro-life supporters.
As the Daily Citizen has previously reported, on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement saying the DOJ “strongly disagree[d]” with the court’s ruling, calling it a “devastating blow to reproductive freedom.”
“The Justice Department will work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom,” the attorney general said, adding the department would use the FACE Act to protect access to abortion clinics.
Shortly thereafter, the DOJ began going after various pro-life supporters, including the since-acquitted Mark Houck, while practically ignoring the hundreds of attacks on Catholic churches and pregnancy resource centers by pro-abortion activists since Roe was overturned.
A weaponized DOJ that uses the full weight of federal law to prosecute and imprison its ideological opponents is truly a frightening reality.
Seth Dillon, CEO of the Babylon Bee, aptly summarized the state of our nation in a post on X: “We live in a country where you can dance in drag for an audience of children but you can’t peacefully pray for their safety and survival.”
That’s very sad – but it’s true.
Please pray for our country. Pray for the pro-life activists involved in the peaceful protest, for their attorneys, and for justice to be done in their case.
Sending peaceful pro-life activists to prison for 11 years, while pro-abortion activists who firebomb pregnancy resource centers get off scot-free, is certainly not justice.
You can learn more about the work of the Thomas More Society.
The case is United States of America v. Gallagher.
If you are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy and want to learn more about your options, visit My Choice Network.
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Photo from Getty Images.