On August 29th, five pro-life activists, including Rehumanize International’s own Herb Geraghty, were convicted of felony conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense in connection with an anti-abortion protest in Washington, D.C. The FACE Act (an acronym for “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances”) was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. While mostly intended to protect physical access for those seeking abortions, it also outlines protections for religious freedom.
At the time of its signing, abortion was a constitutionally protected right under Roe v. Wade; however, as of June 2022, abortion is no longer recognized as a constitutional right. Roe was overturned by the Supreme Court in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which put the issue of abortion regulation back to the states.
It should follow then, that the FACE Act, intended to protect a constitutional right which no longer exists, is itself now unconstitutional. Rather than acknowledge citizens’ First Amendment rights to assemble and peacefully protest, the Biden Administration has doubled down on its use of the FACE Act to prosecute and jail pro-life activists.
On September 19th, Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican Congressman from Texas introduced legislation to repeal the FACE Act. In a press release on his House website, Rep. Roy called the Biden Administration’s use of the FACE Act as “an unconstitutional federal takeover of police powers” that “must be repealed.” The move to repeal the Act has so far been co-sponsored by twenty-five legislators and seven non-profit organizations, including Students for Life of America and Live Action.
While not shocking to those working in the pro-life and consistent life ethic movements, it should be noted that applications of the FACE Act have been wildly disproportionate. In 2022, the Department of Justice charged 26 pro-life activists with FACE Act violations. According to Catholicvote.com, since May of 2023 alone, 88 pro-life groups (including crisis pregnancy centers) and 192 churches have been attacked or vandalized. Prosecutions under the FACE Act for those who violently attacked churches and clinics are almost nonexistent, yet nonviolent pro-life activists engaged in civil disobedience continue to feel the full force of the federal government. It is time to repeal this unconstitutional, disproportionately-applied law and continue with the much tougher work of building a culture of dignity and life in our communities.
You can get involved in the fight to repeal the FACE Act by calling, emailing, or meeting with your local Congressional representative. It is of the utmost importance that we, as a collective, understand that our work is not over in the wake of Dobbs. People in this movement are being jailed, having their lives upended for boldly defending the inherent dignity of all. How will we stand up for them?