A woman looks outside of a window to see a crowd holding various signs that say "anti-choice," "life," and "pro-life"
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Anti-abortion media figures baselessly accuse the Biden DOJ of weaponizing the FACE Act

Anti-abortion figures are baselessly accusing the Department of Justice of weaponizing the FACE Act against protestors convicted of harassment at abortion clinics, with some calling for the act’s repeal. These claims follow a familiar playbook — especially since former President Donald Trump’s legal troubles began, right-wing media figures have frequently claimed that the Justice Department has it out for conservatives.

  • Multiple anti-abortion protestors have recently been convicted for violating the FACE Act, a law meant to protect those seeking reproductive care

    • The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act makes it a federal crime to “use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care service.” Signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994, the FACE Act also allows for civil lawsuits to be brought against obstructors by those working in reproductive health care, state attorneys general, or the federal government. [National Abortion Federation, accessed 6/5/24]
    • Since August 2023, at least 10 people have been convicted and sentenced in connection to a blockade in front of a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic in 2020, spurring outrage among anti-abortion figures in the media. The latest sentencing in this case was issued on May 31, in which Paulette Harlow was sentenced to two years in prison. The Justice Department stated that evidence presented at the trial showed that the defendants “used force and physical obstruction” to conduct a blockade, and faked a patient appointment in order to enter the clinic. [U.S. Department of Justice, 5/15/24, 5/31/24]
    • Since the first convictions in August, anti-abortion figures in the media have shown support for those convicted and claimed the Biden administration is weaponizing the Justice Department to quash anti-abortion protests. The Department of Justice has said that the FACE Act “protects all patients, providers, and facilities that provide reproductive health services, including pro-life pregnancy counseling services and any other pregnancy support facility providing reproductive health care.” [U.S. Department of Justice, accessed 6/10/24; Media Matters, 9/1/23; The Associated Press, 6/5/24]
    • For years, right-wing media figures have accused government agencies like the DOJ and the FBI of using “lawfare” against conservatives, especially Trump. [Media Matters, 7/27/23, 6/15/23, 8/9/22]
  • Anti-abortion figures continue to claim that the Justice Department is weaponizing the FACE Act against them, with some calling for its repeal

    • An article by Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance claimed that the DOJ is weaponizing the FACE Act against anti-abortion figures who are “peacefully sitting in front of an abortion clinic.” Nance also questioned whether there are disparate rates of prosecution for those who have vandalized crisis pregnancy centers after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. [LifeNews, 6/5/24; Newsweek, 6/4/24]
    • On X (formerly Twitter), Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America also alleged a double standard and claimed that the Justice Department under Biden “wields the #FACEAct against peaceful pro-life advocates.” [Twitter/X, 6/3/24]
    • Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America also criticized the Biden administration for convicting anti-abortion groups for FACE Act violations, saying that “peaceful advocates” were being sent to prison for “exposing” the “horrors of abortion.” SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser asserted that the Biden administration has declared “open season on peaceful pro-life advocacy in America,” suggesting that there was disparate treatment for pro-choice advocates. [SBA Pro-Life America, 5/22/24]
    • LiveAction President Lila Rose claimed that the conviction of Lauren Handy, an organizer of the 2020 clinic blockade, was “completely unjust” and claimed that the FACE Act is “a law that has primarily been used to penalize pro-life activism.” [Twitter/X, 5/15/24; The Associated Press, 5/14/24]
    • Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins wrote that “Biden’s Department of Justice is upholding a weaponized law while ignoring students and pro-terrorist activists’ disruption on campuses across America.” Hawkins also repeatedly called for a repeal of the FACE Act. [Twitter/X, 5/15/24, 5/17/24]
    • Alliance Defending Freedom’s Erin Hawley claimed that the Department of Justice is using the FACE Act to “silence dissenters.” In her article, Hawley referenced cases where anti-abortion protestors have been arrested for blocking access to abortion clinics in multiple states, asserting that the FACE Act is only used against anti-abortion protests outside of abortion clinics, as opposed to protests and vandalism against crisis pregnancy centers. [WNG, 5/17/24]
    • Students for Life of America claimed that the recent round of convictions “isn’t the first-time government agencies have turned a blind eye to real chaos and oppressed the pro-life movement by abusing the Clinton-era FACE Act.” [Twitter/X, 5/14/24]
    • Anti-abortion activist Terrisa Bukovinac asserted that the FACE Act “must be repealed,” calling on her followers to continue to call their representatives to push for a repeal. [Twitter/X, 5/16/24]
    • Anti-abortion group Survivors claimed that the FACE Act is “unconstitutional” and called for its repeal. The group also claimed that “Abortion is not a right. In fact, it’s the opposite of a right. It deprives someone of the most important right, which is the right to life.” [Twitter/X, 5/18/24]
    • Anti-abortion group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising urged its followers to “Call your reps and demand they repeal the FACE Act” and get involved with anti-abortion protests outside of abortion clinics. [Twitter/X, 5/16/24]