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Guilt for the Innocent

Biden’s Department of Justice continues to target pro-life activists.

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For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her.

For John said to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.

It has been memory-holed by people who pretend the New Testament has nothing to say about their sex lives, but King Herod beheaded the Baptist not for poverty, dress, or diet, but for calling the king an adulterer and offending his mistress. As John's fate illustrates, people do not like being told the truth about themselves and their behavior. And they often react violently when confronted with the depth of their depravity.

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The Department of Justice last week sent armed agents on morning raids to the homes of at least two pro-life activists and arrested a total of 11 for alleged violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act at an abortion clinic in Tennessee. The arrests came within weeks of the FBI's guns-drawn raid on pro-life father Mark Houck on similar charges. The protestors face more than a decade in prison if convicted.

According to an indictment obtained by LifeSiteNews, the Department of Justice is charging seven of the 11 defendants under 18 U.S. Code § 241, which makes it illegal to "conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person... in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States." All 11 defendants are being charged with FACE violations for allegedly obstructing the entrance to an abortion clinic.

The "conspiracy," such as it was, occurred on Facebook in March 2021. The seven conspiracy defendants allegedly used Facebook "to coordinate travel and logistics" to "blockade" a Tennessee abortion clinic. Their goal, according to the indictment, was to "stop the Clinic from providing, and patients from obtaining, reproductive health services." The first named defendant, Chester Gallhager, said the protestors wanted to "stop as many murderous appointments as we can."

The protestors filled the hall of a medical building that also contained an abortion clinic. They and their children spoke to women considering abortion. Others eventually blocked the clinic's entrance.

Local police at the time came to the scene and arrested several of the protestors on trespassing charges. Gallagher, in the tradition of civil disobedience, reportedly said he was "willing to be incarcerated" for trespassing on the facility grounds. He and other participants were taken to jail in Mount Joliet and released after posting bond. Several of those charged with trespassing were diverted from prison sentences. As of two weeks ago, the matter seemed to have been resolved.

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Now, more than a year later, 11 men and women—some of whom, according to reporting by Townhall's Mia Cathell, are aging and frail—face substantial prison time and thousands of dollars in fines for engaging in a peaceful demonstration at an abortuary. Seven of them—the "conspirators"—could be behind bars for more than a decade. And this from the same Department of Justice that has not lifted a finger to investigate scores of fire-bombings against pro-life pregnancy centers across the country.

These arrests are another abuse of justice from Biden's Justice Department, which has failed to heed Bill Barr's injunction that the department ought “to ensure one standard is used for everybody." The Biden DOJ has taken the opposite approach, treating its political allies with kid gloves and its enemies like terrorists.

It is not enough for the fair-weather partisans of Law and Order to claim that these 11 people "broke the law." Saying these 11 people "broke the law" does not answer for the morning raids in front of children, the trumped-up conspiracy charges, the year-long gap between the event and the indictments, the utter disproportion between the potential sentences and the underlying conduct, and the Department's apathy in the face of a summer-long orgy of chaos, violence, and disorder. An officer of the law, whether a cop or a prosecutor, does more than determine whether the law has been broken. He acts or declines to act on the strength of the evidence, his office's legal, penal, and financial resources, and the interests of justice as such. There is no case on the latter score for sending these people to prison for one day, let alone 11 years.

Why arrest them? Surely the department wanted to exact a bit of revenge for Dobbs; the pro-abortion base wanted scalps, and now they've got some. But there is more going on. One part of the indictment took pains to highlight a defendant's alleged description of a woman entering the clinic as a "mom coming to kill her baby." The implication seemed to be that the remark was callous and demonstrative of the defendant's poor character.

But the defendant was telling the truth. The woman was a mother entering the clinic with the intention to kill her child. The protestor reminded her of the logical and inevitable implications of her actions.

Men and women who protest in front of abortion clinics are despised because they understand and express what abortion is in fact: namely, the taking of a human life. Everyone who procures or participates in an abortion knows on some level that their behavior is depraved. The protestors by their very presence are a reminder of that fact.

We are called not to judge the state of individual souls. Whether these pro-life demonstrators "judged" the women entering the abortuary is a question for them and their Maker. But I suspect whatever judgement these women felt from the protestors' presence is the same as an obese person feels in front of a mirror. It is not the mirror that's making you look fat, and it is not the Rosary-bearing protestors making you feel guilty. Instead of sending federal law enforcement after the protestors, consider instead the Baptist's advice: repent.

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