The Special Litigation Section also enforces the civil provisions
of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act
of 1994 (FACE). This Act prohibits the use or threat of force
and physical obstruction that injures, intimidates, or interferes with
a person seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services or to
exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious
worship. It also prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing
reproductive health services or a place of religious worship. FACE authorizes the Attorney General to seek injunctive relief, statutory
or compensatory damages, and civil penalties against individuals who engage
in conduct that violates the Act.
The Section has served a pivotal role in enforcing the
Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), 18 U.S.C. § 248,
to protect patients and health care providers against threats of force
and physical obstruction of reproductive health facilities. The Department
has filed more than 15 FACE actions in more than a dozen states and
there are ongoing investigations in other states. Section attorneys have
obtained temporary restraining orders and preliminary and permanent injunctions
under the FACE and have won civil contempt motions for
violations of these injunctions.
For example, the Section obtained a preliminary injunction against 35
defendants for blockading a reproductive health facility in a suburb of
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In another case, the Section won preliminary
and permanent injunctions prohibiting defendants from threatening a California
reproductive health doctor and his wife. In addition, the Section secured
a temporary restraining order and then a preliminary injunction prohibiting
a defendant, who had threatened a doctor, from approaching the Ohio clinic.
When the defendant violated the injunction, the Section was successful
in obtaining criminal contempt. The Section won civil contempt and fines
against another defendant based on violation of an injunction creating
various buffer zones outside a Connecticut reproductive health care clinic.
The Section also successfully defended against constitutional challenges
Section attorneys work closely with the offices of the United States
Attorneys and State Attorneys General by providing technical assistance
and conducting joint FACE prosecutions. In addition, the Section
serves on the Attorney General's National Task Force on Violence Against
Health Care Providers.
For further information, follow the links below: