Six Pro-Lifers Face FACE Act Charges in Tennessee, Could See 11 Years in Jail

Trial centers on a 2021 blockade of an abortion facility.

Pro-life activists are facing federal charges for protesting abortion at the Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. (Photo: Ichabod|Wikimedia|GFDL)

Six pro-life activists are on trial in Nashville, Tennessee, facing federal charges related to a 2021 blockade of a nearby abortion facility.

The blockade, documented in a March 5, 2021, video posted on Facebook, showed a large group of pro-life activists, ranging from elderly to young children, walking into an abortion business and blocking access to the door by sitting in front of it. 

The video shows pro-life activists singing Christian hymns and praying. Police can be seen demanding they leave the Carafem Health Center Clinic in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, and while some do, others refuse. 

The federal government announced in October 2022 that it had charged 11 of the individuals under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The FACE Act, which is the same law that pro-life father of seven Mark Houck was charged and acquitted under early last year, prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”

Seven of the 11 individuals were charged with an additional count of conspiracy against rights, which prohibits the violation of someone’s rights guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.

The seven charged under the misdemeanor FACE Act charge and the felony charge of conspiracy against rights face a possible penalty if convicted of 11 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Those charged are as follows: Chester Gallagher, 73, of Lebanon, Tennessee; Heather Idoni, 58, of Michigan; Calvin Zastrow, 57, of Michigan; Caroline Davis, 24, of Michigan (pleaded guilty in 2023); Coleman Boyd, 51, of Bolton, Mississippi; Dennis Green, 56, of Cumberland, Virginia; and Paul Vaughn, 55, of Centerville, Tennessee.

The following four individuals who were only charged under FACE for misdemeanor face one-year imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. They are: Eva Edl, 87, of Aiken, South Carolina; Eva Zastro, 24, of Dover, Arkansas; James Zastro, 25, of Eldon, Missouri; and Paul Place, 24, of Centerville, Tennessee.

The six currently on trial, which began Tuesday, are those individuals charged under both the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights: Gallagher, Idoni, Zastrow, Boyd, Vaughn and Green.

The Daily Wire reported that the court gallery has been “packed” each day with supporters for the pro-lifers and that the trial is expected to continue into next week.

Some of those named in the indictment have also been charged under the FACE Act in Michigan for a separate abortion facility blockade.

Calvin Zastrow, Eva Zastrow, Gallagher, Idoni, Davis and Edl all face the charges for an August 2020 blockade at an abortion business in Sterling Heights, Michigan. 

In that case, the DOJ added an additional FACE Act charge for Idoni and Edl for blockading a Saginaw, Michigan, abortion center in April 2021. 

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