NASHVILLE, TN– On Tuesday, six pro-life advocates were found guilty in a Tennessee court of FACE Act and civil rights conspiracy charges following a peaceful protest outside of an abortion clinic. The six pro-lifers could face up to 11 years in prison.
The peaceful protest brought to trial occurred on March 5, 2021, when a group of pro-life advocates gathered in an office building outside of the Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mount Juliet, TN. According to video footage of the protest, the group prayed, sang church hymns and asked women walking into the clinic to not get abortions.
The Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) accused the activists of violating the FACE Act and the Civil Rights Conspiracy Statute.
The FACE Act, or Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, when related to abortion, prohibits the use or threat of use of physical force or physical obstruction to interfere with anyone who is obtaining an abortion and the intentional damage or destruction of a reproductive health care facility.
The Civil Rights Conspiracy Statute, or 18 U.S. Code, Section 241, “makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate any person of any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States,” according to the FBI.
All six defendants – Chet Gallagher (Tennessee), Coleman Boyd (Mississippi), Heather Idoni (Michigan), Cal Zastrow (Michigan), Paul Vaughn (Tennessee) and Dennis Green (Virginia) – were found guilty of both counts. They will be sentenced in July.
The civil rights conspiracy charge is punishable by up to 10.5 years in prison, three years of supervised release and fines of up to $260,000, and the FACE Act charge is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Their trial was held over a short five-day period at the Fred D. Thompson courthouse in Nashville, TN. The presiding judge was Judge Aleta Trauger, a progressive appointed to her seat in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton.
One of the DOJ’s key witnesses was Caroline Davis, who was arrested alongside the group at Carafem Health Center Clinic.
“During her testimony, Davis claimed that she had a change of heart about attending the protest and that her ‘rational side’ was ‘in the toilet’ at the time of her participation. She said that she changed her mind ‘over time’ and that being indicted by the federal government ‘terrified’ her,” Daily Wire reported in a recent article.
Videos of the protest revealed that the group sang hymns like “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and other members of the group spoke to the police.
One video showed a “participant telling another to speak ‘in love’ to a man in his girlfriend who had shown up at Carafem and that someone’s ‘baby is a gift from God,” Daily Wire stated.
Yesterday, following their conviction, the six pro-life activists gathered alongside their loved ones outside of the courthouse in Nashville to sing and pray. In the face of up to 11 years of incarceration, the six remained unified and faithful.
“This is just normal Christianity. We love Jesus, we take hits, and then we win,” Zastrow, one of the pro-life defendants, said to the crowd. He encouraged the gathering, which included tearful family members, to “write letters to the convicted.”