Six Pro-Life Activists Found Guilty, Face 11 Years in Prison for Peaceful Protest

Six pro-lifers were found guilty of “conspiracy against the rights” on Tuesday, and of violating Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances. This was in relation to peaceful protests outside of an abortion facility in Tennessee in 2021.

In October 2022, President Joe Biden’s pro-abortion Administration announced that 11 activists were charged for the “blockade”, which occurred on March 5, 2021 at the Carafem Health Center Clinic located in Mount Juliet. Attorneys representing the activists claimed they were performing a “rescue.” They had gathered in the second-floor office building, where the clinic was located, to pray, sing hymns and encourage women to not have abortions. According to Catholic News Agency (CNA), the peaceful protest was live-streamed via Facebook.

Six activists were found guilty today of misdemeanor FACE Act charges, as well a felony conspiracy charge. This carries a possible punishment of up to eleven years in prison, and fines of up to $250,000. Chester Gallagher (73), of Lebanon, Tennessee, Heather Idoni (58), of Michigan, Calvin Zastrow (57), of Michigan, Coleman Boyd (51) of Bolton, Mississippi, Dennis Green (56) of Cumberland Virginia, and Paul Vaughn (55), of Centerville Tennessee, have all been found guilty of a misdemeanor FACE Act charge, as well as felony conspiracy against rights charges, which carry a potential punishment of up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Four other activists, who haven’t yet been tried, were charged only with a FACE Act infraction and could face a year of prison and fines as high as $10,000. These activists include Eva Edl (87), of Aiken, South Carolina, Eva Zastro (24), of Dover Arkansas, James Zastro (25), of Eldon Missouri, and Paul Place (24), of Centerville Tennessee.

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Caroline Davis, a 24-year-old activist from Michigan, has already taken a plea bargain in 2023, and has agreed to testify on behalf of the government.

Daily Wire reports that the six activists will be sentenced by July. According to Paul Vaughn’s attorneys, the guilty verdict was announced on the sixth trial day at the Fred D. Thompson Courthouse in Nashville. The case was presided over by Aleta Trauger who is an appointee from former President Bill Clinton.

Thomas More Society lawyers for Vaughn, a Christian Father of 11 Children, announced in a release that they would appeal his guilty verdict before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

Steve Crampton is the Senior Counsel for Thomas More Society and Paul Vaughn’s attorney. He stated, “We are disappointed in the outcome.” This was a peaceful protest by peaceable citizens, filled with hymn-singing and worship, aimed at persuading pregnant mothers not to have their babies aborted. Unfortunately, the Biden Justice Department decided to label Paul Vaughn’s peaceful actions a felony “conspiracy against Rights” to intimidate Paul and other prolife people.

Crampton said, “The Biden Justice Department’s pattern of arresting, prosecuting, and threatening peaceful prolife advocates is troubling.” He noted that the FBI was criticized for allegedly targeting prolife activists despite the rash of attacks by proabortion activists on prolife centers and churches following the Supreme Court Dobbs ruling.

The Thomas Moore Society claims that the prosecution heavily relied on Davis’ testimony. Davis was involved in the protest, arrested along with other activists but agreed to assist the government later. The government presented another woman who was scheduled to have an abortion that day but left due to the protesters. The government also presented an abortion clinic employee who claimed that they were trapped in the building during protest. However, the Thomas Moore Society argued video footage clearly shows people going to and coming from the clinic during protest.

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, the DOJ has charged pro-life activists more than pro-abortion advocates under the FACE Act. This is despite the admission by FBI director Christopher Wray in November 2022 that 70 percent of all abortion-related violence threats in the United States have been directed at pro-life organizations since the Dobbs ruling.

Vanita Gupta, the Associate Attorney General, admitted at the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department’s 65th anniversary that the end to Roe v. Wade had increased “the urgency” in the DOJ’s efforts, which included “enforcing the FACE Act to ensure continued legal access to reproductive services.”

Biden’s DOJ’s aggressive pursuit of prolife activists led to several high-profile cases. One of them was the case of Mark Houck, a Catholic father of seven, who was found innocent of federal assault allegations brought by Biden. Houck was charged by the DOJ, despite local authorities declining to do so.

In addition, there are several pro-lifers in jail, awaiting their sentences. These include two women older than 70 years old, who were also found guilty of conspiracy to violate rights and of violating the FACE Act in connection with an abortion clinic blockade in Washington, DC in October 2020. The women could also be sentenced to up to 11-years in prison.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-TX, introduced legislation to repeal the FACE Act in September 2023. The law, Roy argued, was originally intended to protect abortion clinics, but has been weaponized to target prolife activists by the DOJ under President Joe Biden.

The former president Donald Trump pledged to create a special task force if he were reelected to review the cases of “political prisoners who have been unfairly prosecuted by the Biden Administration” and possibly commute or pardon their sentences.