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Six pro-life activists convicted of federal crimes

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Six pro-life activists convicted of federal crimes

The six pro-lifers could face more than a decade in prison after a jury handed down a guilty verdict Tuesday afternoon. They include Chester Gallagher and Paul Vaughn, both of Tennessee; Heather Idoni and Calvin Zastrow of Michigan; Coleman Boyd of Mississippi; and Dennis Green of Virginia. The U.S. Justice Department said they were each convicted of conspiracy against rights and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

What led to the charges? The incident took place during a March 5, 2021, pro-life demonstration in front of the Carafem Health Center Clinic, an abortion facility in Mount Juliet, Tenn., just east of Nashville. Federal prosecutors said the demonstrators formed a “blockade” outside the abortion center and blocked the entrance. But in a written statement after the verdict, Steve Crampton, an attorney from the Thomas More Society who represents Vaughn, called the protest “a peaceful demonstration by entirely peaceable citizens—filled with prayer, hymn-singing, and worship—oriented toward persuading expectant mothers not to abort their babies.”

What is the FACE Act? The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The U.S. Department of Justice states on its website that the federal legislation “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damages intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.” Crampton says the Biden administration is unlawfully using the act to intimidate pro-life activists and people of faith. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 2. All six demonstrators could face up to 10½ years in prison, as well as fines of up to $260,000.

Dig deeper: Listen to a panel discussion between several pro-life commentators for WORLD Opinions.

Travis K. Kircher

Travis is the associate breaking news editor for WORLD.

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