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Feds Lower Boom on Six Pro-Lifers

Wednesday, June 19, 2024 @ 08:35 AM Feds Lower Boom on Six Pro-Lifers Matthew White The Stand Writer MORE

On January 30, a federal jury convicted six defendants of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act). Each of them also received an additional felony conviction for Conspiracy Against Rights.

What egregious actions led to the full weight of the federal government being imposed on them? Peacefully protesting at an abortion clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, on March 5, 2021, by preaching the gospel, singing, praying, and attempting to convince mothers of unborn babies to choose life.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), however, determined their peaceful actions to be criminal. According to a DOJ press release, the defendants were “engaged in a conspiracy to prevent the clinic employees from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services.”

The defendants are currently awaiting a July 2 sentencing hearing, when a federal district court judge will determine their punishment. They face up to a maximum of 10.5 years in prison, up to $260,000 in fines, and three years of supervised release.

Coleman Boyd, one of the six defendants, spoke with The Stand about what appears to be political persecution against those who stand for life, and about the broader implications such rulings will have on attempts to rescue the unborn.

Apathetically pro-life

Boyd, an ER physician, husband, father of 13 children (ages 7-22), and elder in his local church has been involved in pro-life ministry since 2007.

He admits, however, though he was pro-life, he spent the first 15 years of his Christian walk somewhat aloof to the plight of the unborn.

“It baffles me how a true Christian, zealous for the Lord and His work, genuinely seeking to see the lost saved, can be blind to a Holocaust going on around us, but that’s what happened,” Boyd said of his early years as a believer.

Born again in 1992, Boyd spent those early years on fire for the Lord serving as a missionary all over the world and preaching the gospel.

“But the thought that there are babies being murdered, and I should act – it just never crossed my mind,” Boyd recalled. “And I don’t know why.

“I wasn’t like that when it came to the lost or the homeless, but when it came to babies being murdered, I was completely apathetic,” Boyd admitted. “And not with an intentional rebelliousness, just an absentmindedness.”

Broken for the unborn

That all changed in 2007, when the Lord stirred Boyd’s heart during his daily time in God’s Word, moving him from apathy to action.

While in Proverbs, reading a couple of passages he had read many times before, Boyd fell under heavy conviction.

“Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back. If you say, ‘See, we did not know this,’ does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12).

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate” (Proverbs 31:8).

“I remember reading that, and the Lord just convicting me and stirring my heart to understand that this includes the preborn. This includes babies being aborted,” Boyd recalled. “They’re being murdered, and we are to deliver them that are being drawn to destruction.”

Boyd approached his wife that day and told her it was time for them to get involved.

In the years that followed, Boyd became convinced that abortion “is one of the pinnacle sins of our society.”

“Between abortion, sexual immorality, perversion, and idolatry, it’s going to bring destruction on our nation and on our children,” Boyd said. “The Lord just pricked me, and I’ve just poured in all the more into this area since that time.”

Violating the FACE Act

Fast-forward to the March 2021 event at the abortion clinic in Tennessee that led to Boyd and five others being charged with criminal conduct.

“The facility is a medical building with multiple medical clinics [throughout] and an abortion mill on the second floor,” Boyd explained. “There were probably 30 of us there that morning lining the hallway to the abortion mill.”

Boyd further explained that a number of those present had determined to perform a rescue, which is when individuals put themselves between a mother and the clinic entrance where the abortion will be performed.

Boyd was at the far end of the hallway livestreaming, preaching, and offering help to expectant mothers, but he does not deny that some in their group were physically standing in front of the clinic’s doors hoping to prevent abortions from taking place.

“Did they violate a law? I would argue absolutely not,” Boyd said. “The law in question forbids blocking a reproductive health care facility. Abortion has nothing to do with reproduction.”

However, Boyd understands the law is not interpreted that way.

“To the letter of the law, the way the world is looking at it, there were a handful of people in the way,” Boyd said.

“But we are backward as a nation when people see it that way,” he continued. “We’re backward as a church when the church would condemn someone for doing that, but unfortunately, that’s commonly what happens.”

Boyd pointed out the absurdity of the law with an illustration.

“If you saw someone taking a 4-year-old into a house to murder him, and you stopped it, you would not be breaking the law. In fact, you would be doing wickedly to sit by and do nothing about it,” Boyd explained. “That is the righteous argument and should be the legal argument in a nation of law.

“But we are a nation that has forsaken right for wrong and good for evil.”

Conspiring to save babies

The good news for those convicted of violating the FACE Act is that it carries a maximum of one year in prison; for this case, it was reduced to six months.

While six months in prison is an injustice for someone merely attempting to protect babies, it seems minor when compared to a maximum 10-year sentence attached to the conspiracy charges brought against them.

Steve Crampton, AFA Action board member and senior counsel at the Thomas Moore society, who is representing Paul Vaughn, one of Boyd’s co-defendants, spoke with The Stand to offer a legal perspective on the matter.

“The Conspiracy Against Rights statute they are accused of violating has never before been used in a civil rights protest of any kind,” Crampton explained. “It’s been around since 1873 and is originally a part of the Ku Klux Klan Act, adopted by Congress with the intent of stopping radical racist white folk trying to prevent black folk from voting.”

Crampton highlighted the apparent stretch to use such a law in the context of this case: “With the Biden administration ramping up everything they can to defend the so-called, now nonexistent, federal right to abortion, one of their little whiz kids went and researched and said ‘Hey, here’s a statute. Maybe we can use this against those pro-lifers.’

“The irony here is that the Conspiracy Against Rights – through its entire history – has been used, in very limited fashion, to protect, in particular, constitutional rights,” Crampton explained. “In this case, it’s being used to squelch constitutional rights of Christians.”

Crampton believes these are tactics used by the federal government to intimidate pro-life Christians in a post-Roe society.

“The fundamental methodology and strategy behind terrorism is to commit hideous acts in an extraordinary sort of public way – not just to punish those that are the immediate victims, but to instill and intimidate terror on the surrounding folk who may sympathize with the group immediately attacked,” Crampton said. “This is a means to communicate to the broader pro-life community, ‘Don’t you dare even think about approaching an abortion clinic, or we’re coming after you.’”

Willing to sacrifice

Boyd expressed the same sentiments as Crampton and fears the precedent being set.

“Those laws are being used to intimidate Christians, and I think it’s going to be ramped up,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind that if they succeed with us, the next step is to claim a group of Christians on a sidewalk outside an abortion mill are doing the same thing as us and face the same charges.”

But Boyd is unmoved by the threats, having determined that even if it costs him prison time, it is worth it, if it opens the public’s eyes to the injustice of the murder of the unborn.

“Everybody wants change, but change very seldom happens without somebody dying on the wire for somebody else to run over,” Boyd said. “Nobody wants to be the guy that falls on the wire, but that’s got to happen. That’s just the reality of history. There’s got to be somebody that sacrifices for people to be awakened to do justice.”

Boyd is hopeful that the injustice perpetrated against him and his codefendants will shift people’s perspective to focus on the unborn, rather than on them.

“Our mentality is very often to be stirred up by injustice when we could see ourselves in a similar situation.” Boyd said. “We’re just average run-of-the-mill Christians who love Jesus and preach the gospel, and people look at us and think, That could be me.”

“However, we don’t see ourselves as that little baby getting his arms and legs ripped off,” Boyd said. “So we don’t have the same empathy, the same stirring to act.

“Our prayer is that God would use a little bit of injustice against us to awaken the church to realize it’s nothing compared to the injustice of murdering untold millions of babies.”  



Coleman Boyd asks that readers pray this situation will be used to bring an end to abortion.

“Yes, we want to repeal the FACE Act; we want to knock the weapons out of their hands. But ultimately, we want God to use it to end abortion and awaken the church to action,” he said.

Both Boyd and Steve Crampton urge readers to support efforts put forth by Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas) and by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) to repeal the FACE Act.

“Encouraging and pushing your representatives and your senators to co-sponsor and push that through is vital,” Crampton said.

Crampton also encouraged writing a letter to Judge Aleta Trauger, who will hand down sentences to the six pro-lifers in July.

“It’s unusual, but not unheard of, to write such a letter,” Crampton said. “We’ve had a trickle of letters sent to the judge in Nashville from people all over the country who’ve heard reports about the case, to say ‘Please, Your Honor, exercise leniency in sentencing. They are not violent criminals and should not be sent away for years into a federal penitentiary.’”

Address letters to:

The Honorable Aleta Trauger

Fred D. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building

719 Church Street

Nashville, TN 37203

(Digital Editor's Note: This article was published first in the June 2024 print edition of The Stand. Click HERE to get a free six-month subscription.)

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