The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, or FACE Act, is a law that ensures Americans’ access to pro-life and pro-choice reproductive health services, and is now at the center of legal discussion since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The FACE Act makes it a federal crime, with potentially steep fines and jail time, to use or threaten to use force to “injure, intimidate, or interfere” with a person seeking reproductive health services, or with a person lawfully trying to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship. The FACE Act also prohibits intentional property damage to a facility providing reproductive health services or a place of religious worship.
The measure, passed by Congress with 17 Republican votes and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, was introduced in reaction to the increasing violence in pro-life protests in the 1990s.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this year, the FACE Act is now a key focus for President Biden’s Justice Department.
On July 12, DOJ launched a reproductive rights task force, led by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, which the department says was formed to “identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care in anticipation of the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” according to DOJ.
“The FACE Act is not about abortions,” DOJ states on its website. “The statute protects all patients, providers, and facilities that provide reproductive health services, including pro-life pregnancy counseling services and any other pregnancy support facility providing reproductive health care.”
When a draft opinion of the Dobbs case, which ultimately decided the overturning of Roe, was leaked, several crisis pregnancy centers across the country were attacked. Many of those attacks included arson and vandalism and were carried out by a radical pro-choice group called “Jane’s Revenge.”
Fox News Digital recently reported that no FBI arrests have been made in at least 17 of the attacks on pregnancy centers by Jane’s Revenge.
“The incidents are being investigated as potential acts of domestic violent extremism, FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act violations or violent crime matters, depending on the facts of each case,” the FBI told Fox News Digital in an email. “The FBI takes all violence and threats of violence very seriously, and we are working closely with our law enforcement partners at the national, state and local levels to investigate these incidents.”
On Sept. 23, pro-life activist Mark Houck was arrested and charged with FACE Act violations for allegedly assaulting a 72-year-old man in front of a Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia in October 2021.
If convicted, Houck faces a maximum possible sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000, according to the Justice Department.
In addition to Houck, the Justice Department is also prosecuting an Oregon man, alleging FACE Act violations, “for twice breaking windows and destroying property at a Planned Parenthood clinic.”