After more than 100 attacks on churches and pro-life groups in 2022, the Department of Justice announced yesterday that it has indicted two pro-abortion activists under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for vandalizing several pregnancy resource centers in Florida.
According to the indictment, Caleb Freestone, 27 and Amber Smith-Stewart, 23, “engaged in a conspiracy to prevent employees of reproductive health services facilities from providing those services.”
The two, along with other co-conspirators, are alleged to have “targeted pregnancy resource facilities and vandalized those facilities with spray-painted threats,” which read, “if abortions aren’t safe than niether [sic] are you”; “YOUR TIME IS UP!!”; “WE’RE COMING for U”; and “We are everywhere.”
The pair targeted and attacked pregnancy resource centers in Winter Haven, Hialeah, and Hollywood, Florida.
Freestone has been a vocal supporter of the “antifascist” political movement,” better known as Antifa, and Smith-Stewart’s Facebook page, which boasted pictures of an Antifa flag and a burning American flag, revealed that she is also affiliated with the group.
Less than two weeks after the attack, Freestone was arrested at a Miami-Dade County school board meeting.
Both Freestone and Smith-Stewart will be charged with violating the FACE Act. The 1994 law prohibits anyone from using force or intimidation against employees or patients obtaining or providing “reproductive healthcare” and the intentional damage and destruction of a “reproductive healthcare facility.” The act also specifies that anyone participating in peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstrations will be protected by the First Amendment.
In a press release, the DOJ said that Freestone and Smith-Stewart violated the FACE ACT by
“using threats of force to intimidate and interfere with the employees of a reproductive health services facility in Winter Haven, Florida because those employees were providing or seeking to provide reproductive health services” and for “intentionally damaging and destroying the facility’s property because the facility provides reproductive health services.”
If found guilty, the pair faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and multiple fines adding up to $350,000.
The pro-abortion attacks on pregnancy resource centers and churches began in earnest following the leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in May 2022 and then went into overdrive on June 24 when the opinion was officially released. The decision overturned the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the country in 1973, and sent the authority to regulate abortion back to the states.
Over 78 pregnancy resource centers and pro-life organizations, as well as more than 100 churches, were attacked in the aftermath, and four were actually firebombed.
On June 17, a shadowy left-wing organization called Jane’s Revenge put out a communiqué warning of an “open season” on “anti-choice groups.” The writer described Jane’s Revenge as “not one group but many” and ordered pro-life organizations to “shut down” or face “increasingly drastic measures.”
LifeChoice Pregnancy Center in Winter Haven was attacked on the night June 25-26. The graffiti not only included the spraypainted threats listed in the indictment but was also tagged with the symbol denoting Antifa, as well as “Jane’s Revenge” and “Janes [sic] was here.”
Respect Life Ministry, a pro-life clinic in Hollywood, was vandalized on May 28, while the Heartbeat of Miami Center in Hialeah was hit on July 5, according to a local news station. In the latter attack, a local news station reported, “The man and woman spray painted over security cameras before painting an apparent threat and the calling card ‘Jane’s Revenge’ with an anarchist’s logo.”
The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police have been investigating these crimes, but until the indictment on Freestone and Smith-Stewart, there had been no arrests or even any suspects identified in any of the 78+ attacks on pregnancy centers and pro-life organizations.
However, several pro-life activists have been arrested in the last year, including Catholic pro-life leader Mark Houck, whose trial started on Tuesday and continues today.
The collective response from pro-life groups has been: “Finally!” Still, it’s hard not to find the timing of this indictment to be suspicious, coming on the same day that the criminal trial of Mark Houck began and shortly after the House of Representatives set up an investigation into the alleged political weaponization of the FBI and DOJ.
In fact, not even a week before the indictments of Freestone and Smith-Stewart were issued, the FBI for the first time offered a $25,000 reward for information regarding the attacks on crisis pregnancy centers. Mind you, this sudden interest in affording justice comes nearly nine months after the Supreme Court leak.
During that time, the FBI and other federal agencies took a seemingly apathetic attitude towards the attacks on the many churches and pregnancy centers by pro-abortion terrorists, even as they sent out armed teams of agents to raid the homes of pro-life activists under the FACE Act.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta herself said that the overturn of Roe v. Wade creates an “urgency” for the DOJ to enforce the FACE Act “to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
Now, even with a pair of indictments, the politicization hasn’t abated.
The DOJ official tapped to oversee the case against Freestone and Smith-Stewart is Civil Rights Division chief Kristen Clarke, whose pro-abortion position is well known. She has publicly characterized pregnancy resource centers as “fake clinics” and “predatory,” arguing that they purposefully target women of color. And she was especially critical of a 2018 Supreme Court decision that struck down a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy resource centers to provide information on abortion services, describing it as part of part of a “coordinated strategy” by the “anti-choice” movement to tear down abortion rights.
As optimistic as one would like to be about the sudden shift in upholding the law fairly, this seems to be merely another political charade to cover up the injustices that have taken place since Biden’s DOJ took charge. While it is a step in the right direction that the DOJ is applying the FACE Act to at least two people who have vandalized pregnancy centers, it does not prove their loyalty to justice or the law, given the surrounding circumstances and their failure to pursue and apply equal justice in other politicized issues over the last several years.
Our entire judicial process turns on the foundational principle of “equal justice under the law.” In 1794, John Jay, co-author of the Federalist Papers and the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, made this point clear with he instructed a jury thusly:
“…what is it to justice, how many, or how few; how high, or how low; how rich, or how poor; the contending parties may chance to be? Justice is indiscriminately due to all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank.”
Any government has become evil and corrupt when it deviates from its God-ordained role. 1 Peter 2:14 tells us that God has appointed governments and rulers to punish those who do evil and reward those who do good.
The U.S. government — and especially the DOJ and FBI — has a duty to God, to the Constitution, and to the American people to enforce the law impartially and justly. Today, even with these indictments, it seems, sadly, we will continue to see the opposite.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.