Eleven individuals have been charged with violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, announced U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin and Kristen M. Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
The indictment charges seven individuals with conspiracy against rights secured by the FACE Act, and committing FACE Act violations.
The indictment also charges four individuals with committing FACE Act violations.
The indictment alleges that, beginning in February 2021, Chester Gallagher, 73, of Lebanon, Tennessee, utilized social media to promote a series of anti-abortion events scheduled for March 4-7, 2021, in the Nashville area. According to the Oct. 5 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, “other co-conspirators then utilized Facebook to coordinate travel and logistics and to identify other participants for the blockade.” The press release states that in a social media post, Gallagher referred to the blockade as a “rescue.”
The indictment further alleges that on March 5, 2021, the 11 individuals, aided and abetted by one another, used force and physical obstruction to injure, intimidate, and interfere with employees of the clinic and a patient who was “seeking reproductive health services.”
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by the Civil Rights Coordinator of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and trial Attorneys of the Department’s Civil Rights Division.
If convicted, those charged with conspiracy face up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. Others face up to one year in prison for the misdemeanor offense and fines of up to $10,000.
Commenting on the Department of Justice press release, U.S. Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) posted a tweet stating, “This is a gross abuse of federal power. The FACE Act shouldn’t be a federal law, and the ‘conspiracy’ aspect of it makes it even more illegitimate. The Biden administration is rounding up and arresting political opponents using any rationale possible.”
The 1994 FACE Act, signed by President Bill Clinton, made it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing abortions.