(LifeSiteNews) — Eleven pro-life activists, including 87-year-old concentration camp survivor Eva Edl, were hit with federal charges this week for their involvement in a peaceful 2021 pro-life rescue at a Nashville, Tenn., abortion facility, which has since been forced to stop committing abortions to comply with current state law.
Those charged with conspiracy as well as FACE Act violations are:
Chester Gallagher, 73, of Lebanon, Tennessee; Heather Idoni, 58; Calvin Zastrow, 57; and Caroline Davis, 24; all of Michigan; Coleman Boyd, 51, of Bolton, Mississippi; Dennis Green, 56, of Cumberland, Virginia; and Paul Vaughn, 55, of Centerville, Tennessee.
The four who have been charged solely with FACE Act violations 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.
Eva Edl, who was sent to a communist Yugoslavian death camp as a little girl, has been arrested dozens of times for pro-life “rescues” in which she has worked to save preborn babies from what she calls abortion “death camps.”
The indictment against the pro-lifers was brought by a federal grand jury in Nashville, and alleges that the pro-lifers, “aided and abetted by one another, used force and physical obstruction to injure, intimidate, and interfere with employees of the clinic and a patient who was seeking reproductive health services (abortions).”
The pro-life activists are accused of coordinating via social media to hold a pro-life rescue at Carafem Health Center Clinic, a Mt. Juliet, Tenn., abortion facility, on March 5, 2021.
The federal indictment contends that the “rescue” advertised by pro-life activists Coleman Boyd and Chester Gallager was actually a “blockade” that violated federal law.
According to the press release, Gallager and his “coconspirators and others blocked the clinic’s entry doors and prevented a patient and an employee from entering.” A Facebook livestream of the rescue also allegedly shows pro-lifers “attempting to engage a patient and her companion as Boyd told his livestream audience that the patient was a ‘mom coming to kill her baby.’”
Video footage along with local reporting at the time indicate the pro-lifers were engaged in peaceful protest.
A recording from the planned protest, made public Wednesday by Live Action, shows pro-lifers peacefully standing and sitting inside a hallway of the building, singing hymns, praying, and refusing to leave. Some of the pro-lifers sat in front of doors in a passive effort to prevent employees and patients from proceeding with abortions. On one occasion, the protesters attempted to engage an apparently abortion-seeking woman in conversation about the preciousness of her preborn baby.
Local news outlet The Wilson Post reported March 5, 2021 that the so-called “blockade” consisted of roughly 22 people, including children, “who entered the facility, sat down and refused to leave.”
“Christians peacefully blocked that door and saved babies’ lives. That’s what this is. We are here in support of them. We are here to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Coleman Boyd, who was not arrested at the time, told the outlet.
“Those people this morning didn’t deserve to be arrested. They went to that door to interpose on behalf of those babies, so those babies wouldn’t be taken in there and killed today,” he said.
Mt. Juliet Police Chief James Hambrick told the outlet that pro-life protests outside the abortion facility have not been uncommon but that the March 5 protest was the first time pro-lifers “actually went inside the building and refused to leave.”
“Our aim was not to arrest. We had good dialogue. We’re just glad everything went as peaceful and orderly as it did,” he said.
Carafem COO Melissa Grant, meanwhile, called the pro-lifers “a group of anti-abortion extremists” who were attempting to “prevent people from obtaining the legal goods and services that they want and need.”
Mt. Juliet Police Capt. Tyler Chandler told The Post that nine people were arrested and removed peacefully from the premises.
The Biden administration’s FBI is investigating the case, which is being prosecuted by the civil rights coordinator of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and trial attorneys of the department’s Civil Rights Division, according to the DOJ press release.
Pro-life activist AJ Hurley told Live Action News Wednesday that according to neighbors, Chester Gallager had been out of the state when armed FBI agents arrived at his home.
Other pro-lifers were “called by the FBI telling them they had arrest warrants and had to turn themselves in,” Hurley said.
If convicted, the four pro-life advocates charged with conspiracy could face up to 11 years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines. Those charged only with “FACE Act violations” face a year in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Meanwhile, as the pro-lifers face federal charges for seeking to stop the murder of preborn babies through peaceful means, the abortion facility involved in the case has subsequently been forced to stop committing abortions to comply with Tennessee law.
Effective Aug. 25, Carafem Health Center Clinic stopped providing procedural abortions or abortion pills after Tennessee’s abortion ban took effect following the rollback of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.