CV NEWS FEED // Six pro-lifers are facing up to 11 years in prison after a judge found them guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, but the Religious Freedom law firm representing the group’s leader has announced that they will appeal the conviction.
The six pro-lifers were accused of one count of violating the FACE Act and one count of engaging in a “conspiracy against rights” after they allegedly “blockaded” an abortion facility outside of the city of Nashville in 2021.
Judge Aleta Arthur Trauger, a Clinton appointee, handed down the guilty verdict less than a week after the trial started. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 2.
According to The Tennessean, on March 5, 2021, police arrested 11 people who traveled from various states to the Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mt. Juliet – 17 miles east of downtown Nashville – to hold a peaceful pro-life demonstration.
“Seven of the 11 arrested were charged with felony violations of the FACE Act, while four were charged only with misdemeanor violations and are being tried separately,” The Tennessean reported.
One of the seven charged with a felony, Caroline Davis of Michigan, pleaded guilty in October 2023. Davis argued that she was “embarrassed” of her previous pro-life position and testified against her co-defendants at trial.
Mt. Juliet police officer Lance Schneider testified that “between 25-35 officers responded to the medical pavilion where the clinic was located that day,” according to The Tennessean. “About 20-25 protesters were there, many of whom left after being warned that they would be arrested, Schneider said.”
Schneider also said that “the protesters were peaceful and not aggressive, but that police got involved because they were disrupting other businesses in the building and refused to leave when asked by property managers.”
The religious freedom law firm the Thomas More Society is representing Paul Vaughn, president of Personhood Tennessee and one of the six found guilty. The other five are Chester Gallagher, also from Tennessee, Heather Idoni and Calvin Zastrow from Michigan, Coleman Boyd from Bolton, Mississippi, and Dennis Green from Cumberland, Virginia.
Immediately after the verdict was announced in the early afternoon on Tuesday, January 30, the Thomas More Society issued a statement announcing that they “will appeal the conviction of pro-life advocate Paul Vaughn, after prosecution by the Biden Department of Justice for his participation in a peaceful life-affirming gathering at a Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, abortion facility.”
“The guilty verdict was announced January 30, 2024, after a six-day federal trial at the Fred D. Thompson U.S. Courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee,” the statement went on:
The case of Paul Vaughn, a devout Christian father of eleven, and several other pro-life advocates, has drawn national attention in the wake of the Biden Department of Justice’s virulent prosecution of pro-life activists—which began in the months following the United States Supreme Court June 2022 overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome,” stated Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Steve Crampton, attorney for Vaughn:
This was a peaceful demonstration by entirely peaceable citizens—filled with prayer, hymn-singing, and worship—oriented toward persuading expecting mothers not to abort their babies. Unfortunately, the Biden Department of Justice decided to characterize Paul Vaughn’s peaceful actions as a felony “conspiracy against rights,” to intimidate and punish Paul and other pro-life people and people of faith.
“This is a frustrating setback, for Paul, for his family, and for the extended pro-life community, which has rallied support for Paul from the day of his arrest in front of his wife and children by heavily armed FBI agents, on through the trial,” Crampton added.
The Thomas More Society will likely file its appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.