Biden’s DOJ Secures FACE Act Convictions for 4 Pro-Life Activists, Including 87-Year-Old Survivor of Communist Concentration Camp

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) pursuit of pro-life activists has resulted in four more Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act convictions.

Four people — Eva Edl, 87, of Aiken South Carolina; Eva Zastrow, 24, of Dover, Arkansas; James Zastrow, 25, of Eldon, Missouri; and Paul Place, 24, of Centerville, Tennessee — were found guilty on Tuesday of violating the FACE Act during a peaceful protest at a Tennessee abortion clinic in 2021, the Daily Wire reported

The activists face up to a year in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. They await sentencing on July 30. Six other activists — including a Christian father of 11 and a 73-year-old man — who participated in the protest were convicted of conspiracy against rights and violating the FACE Act in January and face up to 11 years behind bars. 

RELATED — Explainer: DOJ Uses KKK-Era Charge to Extend Prison Time for Pro-Life Activists

The convictions came after a one-day bench trial, with Middle District of Tennessee Magistrate Judge Chip Frensly siding with President Joe Biden’s DOJ after less than half an hour of deliberation, according to the report.

“Immediately after the convictions, the defendants and their families went outside the courthouse to sing and pray,” the report continues. 

The charges are related to a peaceful protest at the Carafem abortion facility in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, on March 5, 2021 — as abortion has since been outlawed in Tennessee with limited exceptions, the clinic has paused in-person care, according to its website.

Attorneys for the activists said they were conducting a “rescue” and had gathered on the second floor of the office building where the clinic is located to pray, sing hymns, and urge women not to go through with abortions. The peaceful protest was also live-streamed on Facebook, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

The DOJ argued in court that the four activists had engaged in criminal activity and blocked the clinic entrance. The DOJ relied on testimony from a former employee of Carafem, a police officer who processed activists arrested on March 5, and a woman who had an appointment at the clinic that morning, according to the report. Another activist, 24-year-old Caroline Davis of Michigan, already took a plea deal in 2023 and agreed to testify for the government.

The report states:

Lawyers for the defendants said that their clients were just practicing their faith in a peaceful manner. Place’s lawyers said that the trial demonstrated massive overreach by the federal government, saying that the Biden administration was prosecuting “people who were simply expressing their beliefs in a non-violent way.” Edl’s lawyer said that the group was there to “pray and sing and worship” and persuade women to not go forward with abortions.

The courtroom was reportedly full of dozens of pro-life supporters, and many, including family members, gathered before the trial to sing hymns, including “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” according to the report. 

Edl, who grew up in Eastern Europe and is a survivor of a Communist concentration camp, said before the trial began, “Whatever happens, we are in the Lord’s hands.”

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the DOJ has notably charged more pro-life activists under the FACE Act than pro-abortion activists despite the fact that FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted in November 2022 that approximately 70 percent of abortion-related threats of violence in the United States since the Dobbs decision have been against pro-life groups.

In December 2022, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also admitted in remarks at the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s sixty-fifth Anniversary that the end of Roe v. Wade dialed up “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work, including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”

The Biden administration’s pursuit of pro-life activists has resulted in several high-profile cases, including that of Catholic father of seven Mark Houck, who was found not guilty of federal assault charges brought by President Joe Biden’s DOJ. The DOJ had decided to press charges against Houck, even though local authorities declined to press charges.

There are also several pro-life activists sitting in jail awaiting sentencing, including two women over the age of 70 who were similarly found guilty of conspiracy against rights and violating the FACE Act for an abortion clinic blockade that took place in Washington, DC, in October 2020. They also face up to 11 years in prison.

In response to these incidents, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) introduced legislation to repeal the FACE Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.” Roy said that while the law was designed to protect abortion facilities, President Joe Biden’s DOJ has since weaponized it to target pro-life activists.

Former President Donald Trump also pledged, in 2023, to create a task force, if reelected, to review and potentially pardon or commute the sentences of every “political prisoner who’s been unjustly persecuted by the Biden administration.”

Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.

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