FBI Charges 8 Pro-Life Advocates, They Could Face Decade in Prison for Saving Babies

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 22, 2023   |   5:40PM   |   Washington, DC

Just weeks after taking a loss in federal court against Mark Houck, the FBI is back trying to put peaceful pro-life Americans in prison for protesting abortion.

Amid accusations that it is targeting pro-lifers to silence and intimidate, the Justice Department has charged 8 pro-life activists with violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act for blocking the entrance of an abortion clinic in 2020.

As LifeNews reported, a Philadelphia jury found pro-life father Mark Houck not guilty on both counts in the case of the bogus charges the Biden administration filed against him. Houck’s case involved an incident where an abortion facility escort bullied him and his minor son.

That situation is different from the blockade that a handful of pro-life advocates engaged in at a Michigan abortion facility that the FBI alleges violated the FACE Act. In a statement, federal prosecutors announced indictments against activists Calvin Zastrow, Eva Zastrow, Justin Phillips, Heather Idoni, Chester Gallagher, Eva Edl, Caroline Davis and Joel Curry for holding an August 2020 blockade of an abortion business in Sterling Heights.

“The indictment returned by a federal grand jury alleges that on Aug. 27, 2020, all eight defendants engaged in a conspiracy to prevent the Sterling Heights clinic from providing, and patients there from receiving reproductive health services,: the Department of Justice contends. The indictment claims the group of pro-life advocates broke federal law by actively prohibiting access to the abortion center.

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According to the indictment, Gallagher advertised the Sterling Heights clinic blockade on social media, and he and Curry livestreamed the incident. The defendants convened at a location near the Sterling Heights clinic, where an uncharged co-conspirator who recorded the incident announced that the defendants were “going over to stand in front of the door” and “interpose.”

This is the second case in which these pro-life advocates have faced federal charges.

Last year, 11 activists were charged with FACE Act violations stemming from their 2021 “blockade” of an abortion clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. This blockade was peaceful, pro-life activist AJ Hurley told The Daily Signal on Wednesday evening.

Several of the activists were arrested on the day of the blockade, after reportedly successfully preventing abortions from taking place at the clinic for most of the day, but police reportedly released these activists later in the day after they posted bail for misdemeanor charges, the pro-life news outlet Live Action reported.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee announced that Chester Gallagher, 73, of Lebanon, Tennessee; Heather Idoni, 58, of Michigan; Calvin Zastrow, 57, of Michigan; Caroline Davis, 24, of Michigan; Coleman Boyd, 51, of Bolton, Mississippi; Dennis Green, 56, of Cumberland, Virginia; and Paul Vaughn, 55, of Centerville, Tennessee, are charged with “conspiracy against rights secured by the FACE Act, and committing FACE Act violations.”

Hurley, a pro-life activist who is friends with many of those charged, told The Daily Signal that the FBI raided Gallagher’s home on Wednesday morning with “guns drawn.” Hurley was not physically present but said he was alerted to the alleged raid by his friends.

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, are all charged with committing FACE Act violations as well, the DOJ release said.

Gallagher reportedly used social media to promote pro-life events scheduled for March 2021 in the Nashville area. His fellow pro-life activists, which the Justice Department release calls “co-conspirators,” used “Facebook to coordinate travel and logistics and to identify other participants for the blockade.”

If the pro-life activists are convicted, those charged with conspiracy could spend 11 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000, while the others face up to a year in prison and fines of up to $10,000.