The Justice Department announced Wednesday indictments against eight pro-life activists stemming from a protest at a Michigan abortion clinic, the latest charges in the Biden administration’s post-Roe crackdown.
The department released the Feb. 15 federal grand jury indictment on conspiracy and violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in connection with an August 2020 protest at the Northland Family Planning Clinic in Sterling Heights.
The defendants, Calvin Zastrow, Chester Gallagher, Heather Idoni, Caroline Davis, Joel Curry, Justin Phillips, Eva Edl and Eva Zastrow, were accused of conspiring to block the clinic and then carrying out a blockade.
In addition, Ms. Idoni and Ms. Edl were also charged with FACE Act violations in an April 2021 blockade of a clinic in Saginaw, Michigan.
Mr. Gallagher advertised the protest on social media, and he and Mr. Curry livestreamed the incident. An “uncharged co-conspirator” recorded the protest and said the group was “going over to stand in front of the door” of the clinic and “interpose,” the indictment said.
“The indictment also alleges that all eight defendants violated the FACE Act by using physical obstruction to intimidate and interfere with the Sterling Heights clinic’s employees and patients, because the clinic’s employees were providing, and the patients were seeking, reproductive health services,” the department said.
When a patient attempted to enter the clinic to obtain a prescription for birth control, Mr. Curry refused to move and said, “We’re not letting anyone in,” according to the indictment.
At least three of the defendants are already facing federal charges. Mr. Gallagher, Ms. Edl, Ms. Idoni, Mr. Zastrow and Ms. Zastrow were accused of blockading an abortion clinic in March 2021 in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, the department said in an October press release.
The charges come with the Justice Department stepping up its enforcement of the FACE Act in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, drawing criticism from abortion opponents.
Those found guilty of violating the FACE Act face up to 11 years in prison and $350,000 in fines.
Last month, a federal jury cleared Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck of charges stemming from two confrontations in October 2021 with a Planned Parenthood volunteer in Philadelphia.
Mr. Houck was arrested in a raid on his house by armed FBI agents in front of his wife and seven children at their home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, prompting his supporters to accuse the agency of overkill.
CatholicVote president Brian Burch said that Wednesday’s announcement “further confirms that this Administration will spare no expense or resource when it comes to hunting down pro-life Americans.”
He accused the department of failing to show the same zeal in pursuing the vandals who have attacked 81 pro-life offices and pregnancy centers since the Supreme Court draft opinion was leaked May 2, according to the CatholicVote tracker.
The department announced indictments last month against two suspects in vandalizing pro-life centers in Florida, the first time federal charges have been brought since the attacks began.
“The shame is that they have no interest in equally pursuing pro-abortion domestic criminals that have vandalized and desecrated hundreds of churches and pregnancy care centers,” Mr. Burch said. “The Department of Justice should not play favorites when enforcing the law, yet that seems to be the new policy. Once again, when it comes to abortion, all pretense of equal justice is abandoned.”
The latest indictments were announced by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison for the Eastern District of Michigan, Assistant Director Luis Queseda of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI Detroit Field Office.
Reporting from The Washington Times.