Recent Cases on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers

The following represent federal prosecutions of recent cases of violence and other conduct directed at reproductive health care providers:

Criminal

  • In 2022, 10 defendants were indicted for Conspiracy Against Rights and FACE Act offenses in connection with a 2020 planned blockade of a District of Columbia area abortion clinic.  The defendants bound themselves with chains and locks and physically obstructed clinic staff and patients during the blockade, which was livestreamed on social media.  Several defendants traveled from out-of-state to participate in the charged offenses.
  • In 2022, a defendant was charged with a FACE Act violation related to damage he caused to a Chicago, Illinois, area Planned Parenthood clinic.  The defendant used a slingshot and fired metal ball bearings at the clinic’s glass door causing damage to the facility.
  • In 2022, 11 defendants were indicted for Conspiracy Against Rights and FACE Act offenses in connection with a 2021 clinic blockade at a Nashville, Tennessee, area reproductive health care clinic.  The defendants planned the organized blockade, and they livestreamed the incident on social media.  Several defendants traveled from out-of-state to participate in the charged offenses.
  • In 2022, a defendant was charged with a FACE Act offense after he used a physical obstruction to interfere with a Hempstead, New York, area Planned Parenthood clinic.  The defendant fastened chains and locks to the clinic’s gate and poured superglue on it to keep the clinic’s gate from opening.  The defendant also lay on the ground and prevented vehicles from entering the clinic’s parking lot.
  • In 2022, a defendant was indicted for FACE Act violations in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after he assaulted a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area Planned Parenthood clinic escort.  The defendant assaulted the escort twice on the same date, with one assault resulting in bodily injury.
  • In 2022, an Oregon man pled guilty to a FACE Act offense for causing damage to a Grants Pass, Oregon, area Planned Parenthood facility in 2021.  The defendant threw a concrete block through the clinic’s window and damaged its intercom system.
  • In 2022, a California man was charged with a FACE Act offense for causing damage to a Los Angeles area abortion clinic in 2021.  The defendant fired multiple pellets from a pellet gun causing damage to the facility.
  • In 2021, a defendant was charged with a FACE Act offense for assaulting a New Jersey area reproductive health care clinic escort as he attempted to assist clinic patients.
  • In 2021, a defendant pleaded guilty to federal offenses, including a FACE Act violation, for making two separate telephonic threats to a Columbus, Ohio, area abortion clinic.  During the first call, the defendant threated to kill a clinic patient, and later, the defendant called the clinic and made a bomb threat.  The defendant was sentenced to one year and one day in prison.
  • In 2021, a defendant pled guilty to a FACE Act violation and other state felony offenses for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Fort Myers, Florida, abortion clinic.
  • In 2021, a defendant pled guilty for damaging a Newark, Delaware, abortion clinic.  The defendant threw a Molotov cocktail at the facility and vandalized it with spray paint.
  • In 2020, a defendant pled guilty and was sentenced to two years imprisonment for FACE Act related offenses in connection with a bomb threat call the defendant made to a Jacksonville, Florida, abortion clinic.
  • In 2019, a defendant was indicted for FACE Act violations and other federal offenses related to a 2015 shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The defendant traveled to the facility and shot at several civilians, killing two and injuring three others.  He then forced his way into the clinic where staff and patients hid.  During a stand-off with the police, the defendant shot at police, killing one officer and injuring several others.  The defendant also shot a civilian who was sheltering in place.  The case is currently pending in federal district court.
  • In 2019, a defendant pled guilty to federal offenses, including a FACE Act violation, for causing damage to a reproductive health care clinic in Columbia, Missouri.  The defendant threw a Molotov cocktail through the front door of a Planned Parenthood clinic.  The defendant was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
  • In 2018, a defendant directed a threatening social media post to Planned Parenthood facilities and staff.  The defendant plead guilty to federal offenses, including a FACE Act charge, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment.  
  • A defendant was charged with FACE Act and other federal offenses for sending several threatening emails in 2017 to abortion clinics located in Chicago, Illinois, and Hammond, Indiana.  The defendant pled guilty and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
  • A defendant pled guilty to committing a FACE Act violation and another related federal offense for making several threatening telephone calls to an Anchorage, Alaska, area reproductive health care clinic in 2016.  The defendant had made a death threat and a bomb threat.  The defendant was sentenced to probation.
  • In 2016, two defendants were charged with FACE Act violations for vandalizing a Baltimore, Maryland, area abortion clinic on two separate occasions.  One defendant pled guilty and the other was convicted at trial.  Both defendants were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution.
  • A defendant pled guilty to FACE Act violations for making telephonic death threats in 2014 to two Minneapolis, Minnesota, reproductive health care clinics.  The defendant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
  • An Indiana defendant was convicted and sentenced to probation for committing a FACE Act violation in 2013.  The defendant broke into a Bloomington, Indiana, Planned Parenthood clinic and caused extensive damage.  The defendant was ordered to pay restitution for the damage caused.
  • A defendant was convicted and sentenced to probation for a FACE Act violation.  The defendant was charged in 2012 for calling a Virginia OBGYN practice and making a bomb threat because the OBGYN practice offered abortion services.
  • In 2012, a defendant was convicted by a jury of FACE Act and federal arson charges for setting fire to a Planned Parenthood facility located in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.  The defendant was sentenced to a total of 11 years imprisonment.
  • A defendant pled guilty to a FACE Act violation and other federal charges for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Madera, California, and other offenses committed in 2011.  The defendant was sentenced to a period of incarceration and ordered to pay restitution.

 

Civil

  • On September 1, 2022, the Division filed a Statement of Interest in a private FACE Act civil suit filed by a Nashville, Tennessee, area reproductive health care provider.  In Femhealth USA, Inc. d/b/a carafem vs. Williams, et al., the United States argued that (i) the FACE Act should be broadly interpreted to include all forms of physical obstructions to clinic access, even where those obstructions are temporary, incomplete, or do not employ particular tactics; and (2) the changing legal landscape governing abortion care in America has no effect on the validity of the FACE Act.  The private FACE Act civil suit was filed in connection with separate 2022 blockades of the carafem clinic during an organized anti-abortion convening hosted by the Operation Save America organization.
  • In 2017, DOJ alleged that 10 defendants physically obstructed both provider and patient access to the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky.  All 10 defendants entered into Settlement Agreements, in which they paid civil fines and agreed to refrain from entering buffer zones outside of the clinic.
  • In 2011, DOJ alleged that an individual used force in an attempt to injure, intimidate, and interfere with two individuals accessing a clinic in Denver, Colorado.  That individual agreed to pay fines to the two individuals.
  • In 2011, DOJ alleged that the defendant intimidated and interfered with individuals accessing a Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C.  Defendant was permanently enjoined from violating or instructing others to violate the FACE Act, coming inside clinic gate, and coming within the marked buffer zone boundary outside of the clinic gate.
  • In 2011, DOJ alleged that the defendant violated the FACE Act by sending a threatening letter to a doctor at an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas.  Defendant was granted summary judgment in 2013 after the court determined that the letter fell short of a “true threat” because it 1) did not threaten any imminent or unconditional violence, and 2) it did not suggest that the defendant would be the participant in the threatened violence.
  • In 2011, DOJ alleged that the defendant pushed a volunteer patient escort outside of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky.  The defendant agreed to pay a fine of $2,500.
  • In 2011, DOJ alleged that the defendant entered the Lynwood Health Center in Lynwood, Washington, and attempted to force his way into the exam room area.  Defendant was permanently enjoined from coming within 25 feet of the clinic and also agreed to pay a $5,000 fine, a portion of which was suspended pending compliance with the consent judgment.
Updated October 18, 2022

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