April 22, 2024

Father of 11, 73-Year-Old Man Among Pro-Life Activists Facing up to 11 Years in Prison

Six pro-life activists were found guilty on Tuesday of “conspiracy against rights” and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act concerning a peaceful protest outside of a Tennessee abortion facility in 2021.

Among those found guilty is a Christian father of 11 — 55-year-old Paul Vaughn — and 73-year-old Chester Gallagher — adding to the growing list of fathers and elderly people President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has threatened to imprison for a maximum sentence of 11 years.

President Joe Biden’s pro-abortion administration announced in October 2022 that it had charged 11 activists involved in the March 5, 2021, “blockade” of the Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mount Juliet. Several of the activists were arrested by local police that day for misdemeanor trespass charges and were later released after posting bail. As abortion has since been outlawed in Tennessee with limited exceptions, the clinic has paused in-person care, according to its website. 

Attorneys for the activists said they were conducting a “rescue” and had gathered on the second floor of the office building in which the clinic is located to pray, sing hymns, and urge women not to go through with abortions. The peaceful protest was also live-streamed on Facebook, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

“We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome,” stated Steve Crampton, Thomas More Society Senior Counsel and attorney for Paul Vaughn:

This was a peaceful demonstration by entirely peaceable citizens—filled with prayer, hymn-singing, and worship—oriented toward persuading expecting mothers not to abort their babies. Unfortunately, the Biden Department of Justice decided to characterize Paul Vaughn’s peaceful actions as a felony “conspiracy against rights,” to intimidate and punish Paul and other pro-life people and people of faith.

“The Biden Department of Justice’s pattern of arresting and prosecuting peaceful pro-life advocates is disturbing,” Crampton added, noting criticism of the FBI’s alleged targeting of pro-life activists, despite the flood of attacks on pro-life centers and churches by pro-abortion activists following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

According to an October 7, 2022, Townhall report, Vaughn was never arrested at the protest. Instead, he “worked to mediate” between the activists and police to “ensure everyone’s safety,” according to the report. Even so, armed FBI agents arrested him at his home in front of his wife and children early in the morning on October 5, 2022.

🚨 One of the pro-life leaders targeted by Biden’s DOJ sent me footage of the early morning FBI raid on his family home. Paul Vaughn was placed in handcuffs by armed FBI agents in front of his children just before school drop-off. Watch as his wife pleads for answers mid-arrest: https://t.co/lUP6tJOSzW pic.twitter.com/XeYComC6mZ

— Mia Cathell (@MiaCathell) October 7, 2022

Vaughn alleged to the outlet that his family did not receive word of his whereabouts until six hours after the arrest and that he was “held in a federal holding facility, brought before a judge, charged, and then released without a wallet or a cell phone 60 miles from his Hickman County home,” according to the report. 

The incident is reminiscent of the arrest of pro-life activist and Catholic father of seven Mark Houck, whom the DOJ also threatened with 11 years of prison time. The DOJ decided to press charges against Houck, who pushed a Planned Parenthood escort twice on October 13, 2021 — even though local authorities declined to press charges. Houck said he pushed the escort, 73-year-old Bruce Love, because he was verbally harassing his 12-year-old son as he was sidewalk counseling outside the abortion clinic.

Houck was also arrested by the FBI, allegedly at gunpoint, in front of his wife and children in the early hours of September 23, 2022. Houck was ultimately found not guilty in January 2023, with the judge raising the possibility that the case should never have been brought to trial.

BREAKING: Pro-life activist Mark Houck was just found NOT GUILTY on federal FACE Act charges brought on him by Biden’s DOJ for pushing a Planned Parenthood escort who threatened his son while he was sidewalk counseling.

Merrick Garland and Kristen Clarke can hold this L. pic.twitter.com/ZEv2oNZ9TB

— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 30, 2023

As for 73-year-old Chester Gallagher, the DOJ alleged that he used social media to promote a series of pro-life events in the Nashville area, including the “blockade” at the Carafem Health Center Clinic. Pro-life activist AJ Hurley told Live Action, a pro-life organization, that Gallagher was not home when the FBI went to his house. Neighbors told Hurley that Gallagher was out of state when the FBI allegedly “arrived with guns drawn and entered the Gallagher home,” according to the report.

“When agents learned Gallagher was not at home, they reportedly attempted to gain information on his whereabouts from neighbors. The Mt. Juliet rescue was reportedly one of three led by Gallagher at different abortion facilities across the country last year,” the report alleges.

BREAKING: Pro life activists Jean Marshall (73) and Joan Bell (74) were just convicted for blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic and now face 11 years in prison.

It’s good to see the Biden DOJ removing these hardened criminals from our streets. pic.twitter.com/W4Pysg2xoy

— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 18, 2023

Two other pro-life activists in their 70s are currently sitting in jail after being found guilty in September 2023 for their role in an abortion clinic blockade that took place in Washington, DC, in October 2020.

Pro-life activists Joan Andrews Bell, 74, and Jean Marshall, 72, were found guilty of violating the FACE Act and “conspiracy against rights” for blocking access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic, a clinic infamous for late-term abortions. Six other pro-life activists involved in the same blockade were found guilty on all charges. All of the activists involved also face a potential “maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000,” according to the DOJ.

Biden’s DOJ is coming after 87-year-old Eva Edl, a pro-life icon arrested 40+ times for blockading abortion clinics and a survivor of a communist concentration camp. pic.twitter.com/KgnoumgejD

— Mia Cathell (@MiaCathell) October 6, 2022

For the most recent case out of Tennessee, four other activists who have not gone to trial yet were charged with a FACE Act violation and face up to one year in prison and fines up to $10,000. One of the activists is 87-year-old Eva Edl, whom Live Action reported is a German survivor of a communist prisoner-of-war concentration camp during World War II.

This administration has no intention of enforcing the laws unless it has a political benefit to them.

Eva Edl, an 87-year-old who survived a communist concentration camp and now lives in Aiken, SC, was FEDERALLY charged with the “egregious crime” of singing hymns in a hallway. pic.twitter.com/sJeTyPOdiZ

— Congressman Russell Fry (@RepRussellFry) May 16, 2023

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the DOJ has notably charged more pro-life activists under the FACE Act than pro-abortion activists, even though FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted in November 2022 that approximately 70 percent of abortion-related threats of violence in the United States since the Dobbs decision have been against pro-life groups.

In December 2022, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also admitted in remarks at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s 65th Anniversary that the end of Roe v. Wade dialed up “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work, including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”

In response to these incidents, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) introduced legislation in September 2023 to repeal the FACE Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.” Roy said that while the law was designed to protect abortion facilities, it has instead been weaponized by President Joe Biden’s DOJ to target pro-life activists.

If reelected, Former President Donald Trump pledged to create a task force to review and potentially pardon or commute the sentences of every “political prisoner who’s been unjustly persecuted by the Biden administration.”

Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.

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