DOJ sues pro-life activists, alleging interference with abortion clinic access

The Justice Department is suing two pro-life organizations and seven activists for allegedly blocking access to an abortion clinic in Ohio in 2021.The civil suit was filed on Monday in the Northern District of Ohio against Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, a Michigan-based charity, Red Rose Rescue, whose website is operated by the charity’s president and solicits donations, as well as the activists who allegedly blocked access to two Ohio clinics that provide abortions. The two incidents took place on June 4 and 5, 2021. Prosecutors argue that the activists violated the 1994 FACE Act, a federal law that prohibits physical force, threats of force or intentionally damaging property to prevent someone from obtaining or providing abortion services. One of the defendants in the case, Lauren Handy, was sentenced last week to four years and nine months for organizing a similar protest in Washington, D.C., in 2020. Handy’s attorney told Fox News Digital last week that he believes that sentence was “really harsh” and contrasted it with the lack of investigations into the anti-Israel demonstrations that have been occurring on college campuses for weeks.PRO-LIFE ACTIVISTS FOUND GUILTY ON CONSPIRACY CHARGES FOR 2020 ‘RESCUE ACTION’ AT DC CLINICThe Ohio complaint seeks $5,000 in damages for each person affected and fines of up to $20,516 for each defendent as provided by the FACE Act, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.”Defendants’ conduct as described in paragraphs 1 through 99 constitutes a physical obstruction that intentionally intimidated or interfered with persons, or an attempt to intimidate and/or interfere with such persons, because they were or had been providing reproductive health services, or in order to intimidate such persons from providing reproductive health services,” the complaint reads. The first incident allegedly took place at the Northeast Ohio Women’s Center in Cuyahoga Falls at around 11:30 a.m., when Laura Gies and Clara McDonald got into the waiting room of the facility via its back entrance by claiming to be seeking reproductive services, prosecutors allege. Minutes later, Christopher Moscinski and Audrey Whipple came through the front door.Several of the defendants then began handing out roses to patients and pleaded with them not to go through with abortions.The staff then tried to take the patients out of the waiting room and McDonald is alleged to have “forcefully grabbed a patient’s body” and told her not to have an abortion.After the workers asked the activists to leave, the police arrived, but the activists began occupying the waiting room floor by lying down or kneeling, according to the complaint. “All of you staff, your paychecks are from blood money of the innocent children you’re ripping to shreds… God has a plan for your life and this is not it. Please, repent! It’s not too late to stop doing what you’re doing!” Gies proclaimed, according to the complaint.Police carried them out to police cars about 30 minutes after they entered the clinic.FORMER POP STAR SHARES ABORTION REGRET: ‘I HAVE A GRAMMY BUT NONE OF IT WILL BRING MY CHILDREN BACK’”You just took us out of [an abortion center], we were trying to help them… stop the holocaust,” Gies said to police, according to the complaint. “Now the police in the United States are part of supporting it by taking away people that are trying to stop the holocaust.”Prosecutors said at least one patient had her procedure delayed until late in the day, while an unspecified number of patients skipped their appointments due to police activity at the facility.A similar disruption took place the following day at an Ohio Planned Parenthood in Bedford Heights Surgery Center, according to prosecutors, where activists, including Handy, Monica Miller and Jay Smith, caused the closure of the facility for nearly an entire day, the complaint alleges.The activists swarmed its “private, fenced-in parking lot and talked to people who were waiting in their cars,” just before 9 a.m., and then followed them when they got out, trying to “force the patients to accept brochures and roses,” the complaint reads.Another activist, Jay Smith, entered the waiting room and began passing out brochures, prosecutors allege. When asked to leave, Smith “used physical force against the patient by pushing him with his shoulder.”Smith refused to leave and workers evacuated the patients out of the waiting room and into a secured area of the facility.Police arrived on the scene and the activists refused to leave, with Handy kneeling down in front of the clinic’s door. She was later arrested and physically carried into the back of a police car. Another person laid down behind a patient’s car and then stood in front of their vehicle door, trapping them inside.The clinic ended up closing for the day, causing nine surgeries and 15 consultations to be rescheduled. “Obstructing people from accessing reproductive health care and physically obstructing providers from offering it are unlawful,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to enforcing federal law to protect the rights of those who seek and those who provide access to reproductive health services.” READ THE COMPLAINT – APP USERS, CLICK HERE:
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