An anti-abortion center in Western New York is suing two as-yet unidentified people who firebombed the facility last year, as well as two other pro-abortion activists who spray painted “liar” on the wall, under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
Though it was designed to protect abortion clinics, the FACE Act is a real exercise in both-sidesism: It applies the same protections to churches, which already had special protections under federal law. It is also broad enough to apply to any “reproductive health” facility.
As I reported a few months ago, the Department of Justice has recently levied criminal charges against several people accused of vandalizing anti-abortion centers, in some cases using the FACE Act.
The law has both civil and criminal enforcement mechanisms. The federal government can use both, and clinics, workers, and patients can also bring civil actions—but that doesn’t happen very often.
Some legal experts have told me they think it’s good for the federal government to apply FACE to vandalisms of anti-abortion centers. They argue it makes the law stronger if the federal government can show they’re applying it equally.
In fact, conservatives have a history of complaining about “unequal” enforcement of the FACE Act. But the federal government isn’t bringing charges in this case—it’s a civil action brought by an anti-abortion center.
Anti-abortion groups have stated their intention to get rid of the FACE Act. This is undoubtedly part of a plan to either invalidate the FACE Act or use it to make pro-abortion activists’ lives miserable.
The reason we don’t see a lot of civil FACE Act actions filed by abortion clinics is because lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming. Abortion clinics can’t afford that while they struggle just to stay open.
But if there’s one thing anti-abortion centers have, it’s money. In a recent exclusive investigation, I revealed that anti-abortion centers are likely spending over $1 billion each year. We know very little about how that money is actually spent. However, many anti-abortion centers are sitting on more than enough money to bring lawsuits like this, so it could easily become a trend.