Tennessee Pro-Life Activists Found Guilty, Face Up to 11 Years in Prison

Six individuals who participated in a pro-life demonstration in Tennessee last year have been found guilty and may face up to 11 years in federal prison, following charges levied by the Biden administration. The charges stem from an incident that took place on March 5, 2021, outside an abortion provider in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

The group of demonstrators, consisting of Chet Gallagher of Tennessee, Coleman Boyd of Mississippi, Heather Idoni of Michigan, Cal Zastrow of Michigan, Paul Vaughn of Tennessee, and Dennis Green of Virginia, were accused by the Department of Justice of breaching the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and conspiring against civil rights. As part of their protest, they assembled on the second floor of an office building, directly outside the Carafem Health Center Clinic, where they engaged in prayer, hymn singing, and attempted to discourage women from undergoing abortions.

The trial, which spanned five days, was held at the Fred D. Thompson courthouse in Nashville, under the supervision of Judge Aleta Trauger, a 1998 appointee of former President Bill Clinton. The defendants were found guilty on both counts, with sentencing expected to occur in July. Under federal law, the conspiracy charge could result in up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines reaching $350,000. The FACE Act violation carries potential penalties of one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Key testimony during the trial came from Caroline Davis, who had been arrested alongside the group at Carafem. Davis recounted her initial participation in the protest, but also her subsequent change of heart, attributing her shift in perspective to fear induced by the federal indictment. Video footage from the demonstration depicted the group engaging in religious songs and peaceful discourse with police officers and clinic attendees.