CV News Feed // The trial of six pro-life advocates is set to begin this week in Tennessee after the group was arrested for sitting in at an abortion clinic and preventing the office from operating.
In 2021, the US Department of Justice charged seven individuals with violating the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances), which stipulates that individuals cannot block the entrance to abortion clinics or prevent individuals from accessing them. An additional four activists were charged with misdemeanor charges.
In March, a group of 20 pro-life advocates walked into Carafem Health Center in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, and blocked the entrance to the clinic for two hours. The activists sang and talked to women who had come to the clinic to seek an abortion. When asked to leave by police officers, the advocates refused.
This week, the trial begins for six of the defendants, Coleman Boyd, Chester Gallagher, Dennis Green, Heather Idoni, Paul Vaughn, and Calvin Zastrow, who range in age from 50 to 70.
The trial comes months after nine pro-life activists were convicted in Washington, D.C., for violating the FACE Act. The group included prominent activists, including Lauren Handy, the Director of Activism for Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), a left-wing pro-life organization. Currently, those convicted are in custody awaiting sentencing.
If convicted in this week’s trial, the six defendants could face up to 11 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
One person in the Tennessee trial, Heather Idoni, a grandmother, was convicted in the Washington, D.C., trial. She was transported to Tennessee to face the charges in this week’s trial.
Idoni, along with Zastrow and Gallagher, have been charged in a third FACE Act-related case. The three face charges for sitting in an abortion clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
If convicted of all three, Idoni could face 33 years in federal prison. Zastrow and Gallagher could face up to 22.