National Committee for a Human Life Amendment

Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE)

n 1994, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) was signed into law (18 U.S.C. 248). This law unfairly penalizes and discriminates against non-violent protesters at abortion clinics who chose to engage in civil-disobedience, an honored form of protest in American history.

In Senate debate, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stated: “Unfortunately, S. 636 – the so-called FACE bill – is not really about stopping violence outside abortion clinics. It is about punishing purely peaceful civil disobedience on behalf of a cause that is not politically correct.” The Senator also stated: “Acts of violent lawlessness appropriately invite severe penalties. But acts of peaceful civil disobedience – mass sit-ins, for example – that draw on the tradition of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. should not be subjected to steep penalties.” Protesters at abortion clinics should not be subjected to penalties greater than those imposed on other protesters.

Since 2002, the Bankruptcy Reform Bill has been stalled because of an amendment that would unfairly prevent non-violent protesters at abortion clinics from discharging debts levied as a result of their protests. As Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School stated: “A large and nondischargeable debt, beyond one’s capacity to pay, especially in the hands of a hostile and motivated creditor, is a financial death sentence. This is what even peaceful pro-life protesters have to fear if proposed par. 523(a)(20) is added to the existing aggressive judicial interpretation of FACE and similar laws.”