Abortion advocates have championed President Barack Obama’s Justice Department for using a 1994 law — the Freedom of Access to Clinics Law (FACE) — to ramp up civil lawsuits against protestors outside abortion clinics.
A report from NPR, said the department has filed eight civil cases against abortion protestors outside clinics during Obama’s Administration compared to one during Bush’s two-term Presidency. According to the news agency, the increase has led to less violence near abortion clinics.
“There’s been a substantial difference between this administration and the one immediately prior,” Ellen Gertzog, director of security for Planned Parenthood, told the news agency. “From where we sit, there’s currently much greater willingness to carefully assess incidents when they occur and to proceed with legal action when appropriate.”
Planned Parenthood is an organization that advocates the rights of women to choose to have an abortion. Its website states: “Abortions are very common. In fact, more than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old…” and, “If you are pregnant, you have three options to think about — abortion, adoption, and parenting.”
Providing options is just what Dick Retta, a Washington, D.C., resident interviewed by NPR, said he was trying to do when the Justice Department slapped him with a lawsuit in July. According to the Justice Department, the man violated FACE by blocking a clinic entrance as he asked a patron not to enter before weighing other options.
Among the allegations in the lawsuit are:
“…he stood directly in front of the patient and escorts with his back towards the Clinic entrance.”
“Defendant shouted at the escorts and yelled to the patient, ‘Don’t go in there. Don’t let them kill your baby.'”
“The patient’s ultimate access to the Clinic, and the escorts’ ability to facilitate the patient’s entrance into the Clinic, were rendered unreasonably difficult and hazardous as a result of the obstruction.”
The suit asks that Retta be fined $10,000 and pay three alleged victims that complained about his being at the clinic $5,000; the defendant will also be prohibited from being within 20 feet of the clinic if the ruling falls in favor of the government.
The defendant maintains his innocence, telling NPR: “We don’t block women from coming in. That’s not our policy,” he said. “I teach it. I teach what I’m doing … and I say one thing: Never block the women from going in. Never.”