Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday offered a reason why the Department of Justice prosecutes pro-life protesters at abortion centers more than pro-abortion vandals who targeted pro-life pregnancy resource centers after the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade last May.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, asked Garland about the case of pro-life activist Mark Houck, who faced charges for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act. A jury found Houck not guilty, and Houck claims he did not attack an abortion clinic, but merely pushed an abortion activist who had been antagonizing his son. He cited Catholic Vote statistics on attacks against pregnancy resource centers and Catholic churches after the leak of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“In 2022 and for the first couple of months of 2023, DOJ’s announced charges against 34 individuals for blocking access to or vandalizing abortion clinics, and there have been over 81 recorded attacks on pregnancy centers, 130 attacks on Catholic churches since the leak of the Dobbs decision, and only two individuals have been charged,” Lee noted.
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“So, how do you explain this disparity by reference to anything other than politicization of what’s happening there?” Lee asked.
Garland noted that the FACE Act applies to protect both abortion centers and pregnancy resource centers.
“I will say you are quite right. There are many more prosecutions with respect to the blocking of the abortion centers, but that is generally because those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight, and seeing the person who did it is quite easy,” the attorney general said.
“Those who are attacking the pregnancy resource centers, which is a horrid thing to do, are doing this at night, in the dark,” Garland added. “We have put full resources on this. We have put rewards out for this. The Justice Department and the FBI have made outreach to Catholic and other organizations to ask for their help in identifying the people who are doing this.”
“We will prosecute every case against a pregnancy resource center that we can make, but these people doing this are clever and are doing it in secret. I am convinced that the FBI is trying to find them with urgency,” he added.
Catholic Vote, which has tracked the 81 attacks on pregnancy centers and the 130 attacks on Catholic churches since the Dobbs leak, faulted Garland’s response for failing to distinguish between criminal acts and acts of protest protected by the U.S. Constitution.
“What Garland doesn’t admit is the obvious: The pro-abortion attacks are criminal (which is why they act in secret),” the organization posted on Twitter. “Pro-life activists are there during the middle of the day because they know what they are doing is legal and protected by the U.S. Constitution.”
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