The Department of Justice (DOJ) this week is reaching back three years to charge eight pro-life activists who, through sitting and praying, blocked the door of the Northland Family Planning abortion facility in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
They face up to 11 years in federal prison. Many have already been charged for similar incidents.
According to the DOJ indictment, on August 27, 2020, the eight committed conspiracy to prevent women from having abortions by using social media to communicate about standing “in between the hands of an abortionist that wants to murder these children and the life of these babies,” the indictment said, quoting video that was live streamed by Joel Curry, one of the indicted.
They were also charged with violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which was enacted in 1994 to prohibit interference with obtaining or providing abortions.
The group prevented a woman from entering the facility “for a scheduled reproductive health care appointment,” the indictment said. The Sterling Heights police told the group to move. They “refused to move and instead engaged the officers in conversation as a delay tactic, and continued to block access,” the indictment says, and then quotes another of the indicted, Chester Gallagher, who said on the video, “[The] longer they talk with us, the better the opportunity we have to see women and children rescued. And that’s what obstructing the door of an abortion clinic is about and why it is so successful.”
Another in the group, Eva Edl, an 87-year-old communist concentration camp survivor, refused to move and encouraged the others to continue blocking access, saying, “You can arrest us, you can do whatever you want, but I will be back, wherever there is a clinic open,” the indictment said.
The accused are Calvin Zastrow of Michigan; Chester Gallagher of Tennessee; Heather Idoni of Michigan; Caroline Davis of Georgia; Joel Curry of Michigan; Justin Phillips of Michigan; Eva Edl of South Carolina; and Eva Zastrow of Michigan.
Some of them are among the 11 people already charged with FACE Act violations and conspiracy for a March 2021 pro-life demonstration at a now-closed abortion facility in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.
Idoni, 58, already faces 22 years in federal prison, 11 years for the Tennessee incident, and 11 years for charges related to her presence at another abortion facility in October 2020 in Washington, D.C. Now with the potential of 11 more years, she could face a total of 33 years and expects that she would die before being released from prison.
“My own mother admitted to me that, had abortion been legal in 1964, she would have aborted me. I would hope someone would have fought for my life the same way we’ve been fighting for the lives of babies now,” Idoni told The Epoch Times. “Whenever I start to feel like I may have been in over my head, I just am reminded of the millions of babies that have been dismembered and killed brutally since 1973. And then I realized I haven’t done enough. This holocaust is nowhere near the end. And so I just want to glorify God in all the things that I do. I have no regrets whatsoever for the actions that I’ve taken to spare lives.”
The indictment comes after a grand jury investigation.
“This is what faithful Christianity looks like in a nation that murders children,” Cal Zastrow told The Epoch Times.
Penalties against the pro-life community have been on the rise under President Joe Biden.
In the 10 years between 2011 and 2021, the DOJ criminally charged 17 people with FACE Act violations, according to the agency’s website. In 2022 alone, the DOJ charged 26 people. The Epoch Times requested comment from the DOJ.
Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Biden issued an executive order in July 2022 for his administration to address “potential heightened safety and security risks related to the provision of reproductive health care services.” He formed the Reproductive Rights Task Force, a Justice Department-led group focused, in part, on enforcing the FACE Act.
Regarding penalties for violating the FACE Act, “Except that for an offense involving exclusively a nonviolent physical obstruction,” the DOJ website states, “the fine shall be not more than $10,000 and the length of imprisonment shall be not more than six months, or both, for the first offense.” A subsequent offense shall be no more than $25,000 and the length of imprisonment no more than 18 months. However, the eight activists face 11 years in prison because the DOJ has also begun adding conspiracy charges.
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