NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Wednesday, lawmakers and community members responded after 11 anti-abortion activists were indicted on felony charges.
“America has lost its soul, but thank God there are few who are still standing for the rights of every people no matter how small,” said AJ Hurley.
The court documents from the Department of Justice detailed how the group coordinated through social media to promote anti-abortion events back in March 2021. Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mt. Juliet became their target.
“These 11 gentle Christians who are being terrorized and bullied by the FBI and the DOJ,” said Derin Stidd, the Assistant Director of Operation Save America.
The DOJ stated everyone involved, used force and physical obstruction to injure, intimidate, and interfere with employees and patients inside the clinic. On Wednesday, for the first time, one of the defendants spoke out.
“Here we have an abortion as a way to exterminate another people group, namely the pre-born babies. I cannot understand what has happened to our nation,” said Eva Edl, who is listed in the lawsuit. “Get involved, save lives, in Jesus’ name.”
The lawsuit garnered national attention, including the eyes of Tennessee lawmakers. This month, Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted in response to the arrests, writing, “What about charging those who vandalized pro-life pregnancy centers?”
The group of 11 is facing charges under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE.
“The FACE Act is for these extreme acts that involve violence or really making it impossible to get into a clinic,” explained David Cohen, a Law Professor at Drexel University.
Cohen has worked with the Women’s Law Project. He explained while anti-abortion protests and demonstrations have long since been happening outside of health clinics, being charged under the FACE Act doesn’t happen often.
“FACE Acts are very rare, and abortion clinics believe that they should be used more and they have pushed for the FACE Act,” said Cohen. “In Tennessee, the 11 people had a physical blockade that made it impossible for people to go in or out of the clinic. Those kinds of extreme acts are the kind of acts brought under FACE, but the Department of Justice does this rarely.”
Those being charged with planning the protests face up to 11 years in prison if convicted. Those accused of participating face up to a year.