President Joe Biden’s proposed 2024 budget calls for investing huge sums of money into the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division—the same division disproportionately targeting pro-life activists with Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act charges as a response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

The proposed budget increase is framed as reinvigorating federal civil rights enforcement.

“In order to address longstanding inequities and strengthen civil rights protections, the Budget invests $252 million, an increase of $62 million over the 2023 enacted level, in the DOJ Civil Rights Division,” the budget proposal says. “These resources would support police reform via pattern-or practice investigations, the prosecution of hate crimes, enforcement of voting rights, and efforts to provide equitable access to justice.”

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.”

DOJ website language states that “the FACE Act is not about abortions,” emphasizing that the “statute protects all patients, providers, and facilities that provide reproductive health services, including pro-life pregnancy counseling services and any other pregnancy support facility providing reproductive health care.”

U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke speaks on a federal investigation on Aug. 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The FACE Act has typically been used to prosecute those accused of attacking abortion clinics, but its language also protects pro-life organizations under the term “reproductive health services,” as the DOJ has since reaffirmed.

And yet in 2022, the DOJ only charged pro-life activists with FACE Act violations. The Civil Rights Division failed to charge a single pro-abortion activist with FACE Act charges in 2022, despite over 100 apparent pro-abortion attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches across the nation, according to Catholic Vote trackers.

Finally, in late January, the DOJ indicted two radical activists for attacking pro-life facilities in Florida.

In December, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta admitted that the DOJ had been targeting pro-life activists through the FACE Act as a response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade when she delivered remarks at the Civil Rights Division’s 65th anniversary.

The associate attorney general described the overturn of Roe v. Wade as a “devastating blow to women throughout the country” that took away “the constitutional right to abortion” and increased “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work—including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.


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