Westerman Joins Push to Demand DOJ Action Following Extreme Violence on Pro-Life Organizations & Churches

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman (AR-04) joined Rep. Ken Buck (CO-04) and other Republican colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding the Department of Justice take action to protect Americans from the meteoric rise of violent attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches.

“The DOJ must do their job and protect the innocent Americans that are continually threatened by far-left extremists,” said Rep. Westerman. “Free speech is a core tenant of our democracy, and it must be guarded in all circumstances, no matter one’s political affiliation. To refuse to defend pro-life organizations and individuals would be a severe dereliction of AG Garland’s duty and a threat to the integrity of the DOJ.”

“I’ve seen this pattern before when I was a prosecutor—criminals don’t stop until they’re stopped. Since the Roe v. Wade leak, pro-abortion extremists have been committing acts of terrorism against pro-life organizations and churches across the nation.  They won’t stop until the Justice Department steps up and does its job.” said Congressman Buck.

Cosigners of the letter include Reps. Greg Steube (FL-17), Chris Smith (NJ-04), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Burgess Owens (UT-04), Brian Babin (TX-36), Tom Tiffany (WI-07), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Bill Posey (FL-08), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Mike Johnson (LA-04), Jim Banks (IN-03), Ben Cline (VA-06), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Daniel Webster (FL-11), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), , Randy Weber (TX-14), Mary Miller (IL-15), John Rose (TN-06), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Tim Walberg (IL-07), John Moolenar (MI-04), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Randy Feenstra (IA-04), Young Kim (CA-39), Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), Bob Good (VA-05), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Tracey Mann (KS-01), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Scott Franklin (FL-15), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Peter Meijer (MI-03), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Ted Budd (NC-13), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), David McKinley (WV-01), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT).

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This letter has received support from March for Life, National Right to Life, SBA Pro-Life America, and Heritage Action.

“Since 2016, over 800,00 lives have been saved through pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and other pro-life organizations, primarily staffed by volunteers, who lovingly provide support and encouragement for mothers and their children across this nation,” said Hon. Marilyn Musgrave, SBA Pro-Life America’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “The recent rash of attacks on these organizations is abhorrent and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We thank Rep. Buck and his colleagues for standing with these pro-life organizations who deserve our support to continue their work of supporting moms and babies.” 

“National Right to Life thanks Congressman Buck for his efforts urging the U.S. Department of Justice to stop the violence against prolife organizations,” said Jennifer Popik, National Right to Life Director of Federal Legislation. “National Right to Life has always believed that violence should never have a role in the cause of protecting unborn children and has consistently condemned such violence.”

Text of the letter may be found HERE and below:

LETTER TEXT

The Honorable Merrick B. Garland

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Garland:

Since the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on May 2, 2022, there have been at least 40 documented attacks against pro-life pregnancy centers and churches. These attacks include incidences of vandalism, destruction of property, and even firebombing. The radical group Jane’s Revenge, which took credit for the May 2022 firebombing of a pregnancy center in Madison, Wisconsin, has even declared it “open season” on pro-life organizations and vowed to ramp up its offensive.

This tide of violence is likely to continue in the coming months as an official court opinion is released. It is critical that the Department of Justice take steps now to protect pro-life pregnancy centers and places of worship. The Clinton Administration took such steps to protect abortion clinics, signing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act of 1994. The FACE Act makes it a federal crime to use force, threats of force, physical obstruction, intentional injury, or intimidation against clinics providing “reproductive health services” or places of worship, with penalties including both fines and imprisonment. It also makes it a federal crime to intentionally damage or destroy the property of such clinics or places of worship. The clinics covered include those offering “services relating to pregnancy.”

During the 1990s the DOJ went so far as preemptively dispatching U.S. Marshals under the law to guard abortion clinics across the country. In doing so, Attorney General Janet Reno was responding to pro-abortion activists comparing acts of violence against abortion clinics to violence against civil rights workers and students in the 1960s, saying that the federal government was “using all federal tools” to protect abortion clinics. The U.S. Marshals Service continued to protect abortion providers into the 2000s under both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

The Supreme Court has likewise upheld related speech restrictions on First Amendment rights, ruling a 36-foot protest “buffer zone” from abortion clinic entrances and driveways constitutional in Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, Inc. (1993) and a similar 15-foot buffer zone constitutional in Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York (1997). In Hill v. Colorado (2000), the Court upheld a floating 8-foot protest buffer zone for passersby, writing that the legislation did not violate the content-neutrality test established under Ward v. Rock against Racism (1989) because it did not apply to the “content of the demonstrators’ speech” but rather the location of that speech.

The assault on pro-life Americans’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion must be stopped. Given efforts from all three branches of government throughout the 1990s to protect abortion, the means to fight back against this lawless behavior are already in place. We urge the Department of Justice to aggressively and immediately take steps to stop the violence and protect the rights of all Americans.

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