U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has joined Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in introducing legislation to repeal the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, according to a news release from Roy’s office.
“Pleased to join [Rep. Chip Roy] on introducing legislation to repeal the weaponized FACE Act,” tweeted Lamborn. “Time and time again, the Biden admin has targeted peaceful pro-life activists who are simply standing for our most vulnerable. This bill affirms the 1st Amendment is protected for all.”
Enacted in 1994, the FACE Act prohibits intentional property damage and the use of “force or threat of force or…physical obstruction” to “injure, intimidate or interfere with” someone entering a health care facility. In 1993, Colorado passed a prohibition on engaging in “oral protest, education or counseling” within 100 feet of the entrance of a health care facility, but a lawsuit filed in June is challenging that law as well.
Last year, 11 individuals were charged with violating the FACE act for blockading the Carafem Health Center Clinic, in Mount Juliet, Tennessee on March 5, 2021. According to a Justice Department news release, “all 11 defendants violated the FACE Act by using physical obstruction to intimidate and interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient, because the clinic was providing, and the patient sought reproductive health services. All defendants will have appearances scheduled in U.S. District Court in Nashville at a later date. If convicted of the offenses, the seven conspiracy defendants each face up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release and fines of up to $350,000. The remaining five defendants face a year in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $10,000.”
According to Roy and Lamborn, the FACE Act is a violation of the First Amendment. “Free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs,” said Roy in a news release. “Yet, Biden’s Department of Justice has brazenly weaponized the FACE Act against normal, everyday Americans across the political spectrum, simply because they are pro-life. Our Constitution separates power between the federal government and the states for a reason, and we ignore that safeguard at our own peril. The FACE Act is an unconstitutional federal takeover of state police powers; it must be repealed.”
While the majority of FACE Act prosecutions involve anti-abortion protesters, the law has also been used to target activists who have vandalized anti-abortion pregnancy centers following the Dobbs decision. In January, two Florida residents were indicted by a federal grand jury for spray-painting threats on anti-abortion pregnancy centers in the state. According to the indictment, “Caleb Freestone, 27, and Amber Smith-Stewart, 23, engaged in a conspiracy to prevent employees of reproductive health services facilities from providing those services. … As part of the conspiracy, the defendants targeted pregnancy resource facilities and vandalized those facilities with spray-painted threats. … Freestone and Smith-Stewart, and other co-conspirators, are alleged to have spray painted threats, including ‘If abortions aren’t safe than niether [sic] are you,’ ‘YOUR TIME IS UP!!,’ ‘WE’RE COMING for U,’ and ‘We are everywhere,’ on a reproductive health services facility in Winter Haven, Florida.”
According to Roy’s news release, organizations supporting his legislation include Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Thomas Moore Society, Family Research Council, Students for Life Action, Catholic Vote, Live Action and Citizens for Renewing America.