Violating the 'FACE Act': TN Pro-Life Protesters Could Spend More Than a Decade Behind Bars
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Six pro-life advocates face more than 10 years in prison after their convictions on felony charges, including violating what's called the "FACE Act."
Opponents, however, accuse the government of weaponizing that law against pro-lifers and not applying it fairly.
'Rule of Law' Victory?
"You need to leave her alone. This is harassment. This is harassment," the abortion clinic worker tells the protester in a video.
"It's not harassment," the protester replies.
She then continues speaking with the woman who's seeking to get an abortion:
"Do you know how many moms that we've helped? I could show you pictures of babies who've made it."
This plea, urging the woman not to abort her baby, happened in 2021 outside a Tennessee abortion clinic.
In the video, the worker also confronts a protester blocking a door.
"You need to move, sir," she says.
"No ma'am," the protester responds.
"The police are on their way."
"You will all be forcibly removed."
"You need to move."
A federal jury recently convicted six protesters of felony conspiracy and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, also known as the FACE Act. Among those convicted: pro-life advocate Paul Vaughn, whose attorney argues the law itself is the problem.
"So it's all about abortion. And since the Dobbs decision in 2022, exposing for all the world to see that there never really was any federal constitutional right to abortion, the Biden administration has used the FACE Act to target pro-life Christians in particular for exercising perfectly peaceful, nonviolent, civil disobedience, sit-ins kind of thing like this," Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Steve Crampton, told CBN News.
In a statement, a U.S. Attorney called the verdict a "victory for the rule of law" and said the "defendants knowingly chose to violate laws they disagreed with."
Vaughn said that's not true in his case.
"There was no knowingly breaking any laws," he told CBN News. "As a matter of fact, I have a two-year-old that was due that week of the event, and I knowingly and intentionally avoided breaking any laws at the risk of not being at her birth."
"I find that laughable, frankly, when you talk about the rule of law; let's look a little more closely at the FACE Act," Crampton said. "The FACE Act prohibits not only actions targeting an abortion clinic but also actions targeting churches and pro-life pregnancy centers."
"Well, since the announcement of the Dobbs decision in 2022, literally hundreds of pro-life pregnancy centers and churches have been attacked, vandalized, even firebombed," he continued.
"And guess what? The so-called rule of law mentioned by the US Attorney has been almost entirely ignored by our weaponized Department of Justice and FBI," Crampton said.
Emily Erin Davis, vice president of communications for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, agrees the act is not applied equally.
"Originally, the bill was touted to make sure that both sides were equally protected," Davis told CBN News. "But like I've said, we have not seen that enacted, and that's why we at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America are saying, 'Look, that is not coming through in practice.'"
"That's why we are calling to repeal the FACE Act," she added.
Crampton and his client plan to appeal the ruling. If unsuccessful, Vaughn could face a steep penalty.
"You have a wife and 11 kids. You could go to prison for more than 10 years. Is it worth it – everything you've gone through?" CBN News asked him.
"The reality is, they talk about they're going to take away 10 years of my life, but as a Christian, I've already laid my life down," Vaughn shared. "And so they can't take what I willfully, willingly give. And I think that's the principles we have to live by."
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