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Tags: doj | joe biden | prolife | abortion

DOJ Sues 5 Anti-abortion Activists for FACE Act Violations

By    |   Friday, 21 June 2024 07:17 PM EDT

President Joe Biden's Department of Justice has thrown the hammer down on five anti-abortion activists — three of whom already are facing prison sentences — by filing a federal lawsuit against them in Florida for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday against Calvin Zastrow, his daughter Eva Zastrow, Kenneth Scott, Chester Gallagher, and Katelyn Sims, alleges they violated the FACE Act on Jan. 27, 2022, in Fort Myers, Florida, by trespassing onto an abortion clinic's property, blocking the entrances and temporarily stopping operations at the center.

The FACE Act, passed in 1994 by a Democrat-controlled Congress, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton after a spate of violence nationwide against abortion clinics. It prohibits the use of force, threats of force, or physical obstruction against anyone who is seeking or providing reproductive health services.

"The Justice Department ensures that individuals cannot pick which laws they wish to follow," Roger Handberg, U.S. attorney for the District Court for Middle District of Florida, said Thursday in a news release. "We look forward to continuing to protect the rights of patients and providers to access reproductive healthcare."

The FACE Act has long been the center of controversy, especially after anti-abortion activist Lauren Handy was sentenced in May to four years and nine months in federal prison and three years of supervised release after a conviction in Washington, D.C.

"In policy and practice, the FACE Act is an unjust law and an unconstitutional breach of the states' police power," wrote Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, in a June 4 opinion piece in Newsweek. "Joe Biden, who used to support common-sense limits on abortion, is now beholden to his party's radical abortion wing and must prosecute these nonviolent offenders."

According to the lawsuit, the DOJ is seeking a civil penalty of not more than $20,516 for first violations and not more than $30,868 for subsequent violations, as well as $5,000 in damages against each defendant.

The complaint stated the Lee County Sherriff's Office received reports from the Fort Myers Health Center that protesters were preventing individuals seeking services from entering the building. Protesters allegedly yelled "baby murderer" and "you're going to hell" at a Planned Parenthood doctor who was trying to enter the facility.

Several protesters, including the Zastrows and Sims, stood or sat in front of the front door of the facility. Eva Zastrow allegedly tried to shove a door closed while a patient tried to enter, forcing the patient "to squeeze past the protesters and enter the front door" of the clinic, the complaint stated. The Zastrows and Sims were then picked up from the ground by sheriff's deputies and arrested for trespassing.

It is not known if the defendants have yet retained attorneys.

Calvin Zastrow and Gallagher were among six people convicted in January of violating the FACE Act in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2021. They will be sentenced July 2 and each face a maximum of 10 1/2 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $260,000.

Eva Zastrow was one of four people convicted in March of violating the FACE Act in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, in 2021. She faces a maximum of six months in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $10,000. She reportedly will be sentenced in July.

At the time of their arrests, abortion was legal in Tennessee, but it has since been outlawed at all stages of pregnancy with a narrow list of exceptions. Abortion was legal in Florida up to 15 weeks of pregnancy at the time of the incident in the DOJ's lawsuit, but it has since been restricted to no more than six weeks of pregnancy.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


US
President Joe Biden's Department of Justice has thrown the hammer down on five anti-abortion activists - three of whom already are facing prison sentences - by filing a federal lawsuit against them in Florida for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
doj, joe biden, prolife, abortion
627
2024-17-21
Friday, 21 June 2024 07:17 PM
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