Filed under: Action, Repression, Southeast
Update on continued harassment of pro-choice activists in so-called Florida. Originally posted by the South Florida Anti-Repression Committee.
Following months of FBI harassment, two additional pro-choice individuals have been charged as co-defendants in the first such use of the FACE Act (a law intended to protect abortion access and abortion clinics). On the morning of Wednesday, March 29, law enforcement took one individual into custody and demanded that another turn themselves into federal authorities.
Doubling down on repressive tactics, both the State of Florida and Heartbeat of Miami, a Christian pregnancy center, have filed separate lawsuits against all four co-defendants and numerous “Jane Does.” This civil litigation is further evidence of a far-right political stunt intended to further an extremist agenda. The two suits resemble a legal tactic called SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). The lawsuit filed by Heartbeat of Miami intentionally and falsely conflates constitutionally protected First Amendment activities with evidence of racketeering and conspiratorial criminality. Both the State of Florida and Heart of Miami intend to have a chilling effect on pro-choice activists, frightening people from their lawful public participation across the country.
The person arrested on March 29 is a parent and caregiver to two minor children. The arrest occurred in front of the two children, weeks after a “no knock” raid on their home that led to an eviction and damage to the home caused by flash bang grenades. Law enforcement continued to harass the two minor children, attempting to coerce them to provide statements to law enforcement without a guardian or attorney present. The second person arranged with their attorney to turn themself in to federal authorities.
These are two more casualties in an ongoing political attack on and harassment of pro-choice activists in Florida. At the behest of extreme right-wing politicians, the Department of Justice has moved to grossly abuse and misuse the FACE Act. The act was put into place with the express purpose of preserving safe abortion access and safety for those who provide abortions.
There is no substantial evidence that the locations that co-defendants are alleged to have spray painted with graffiti provide any clinical reproductive care. In fact, they have been outed by pro-choice organizations as part of a vast network of “fake clinics” that have the sole purpose of misleading those seeking reproductive care and using scare tactics to dissuade them from seeking it in the future.
One of the so-called clinics named in the indictment clearly states on their website :
“We do not offer or refer for abortion services. The information on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional counseling and/or medical advice.”
Fake clinics are not reproductive health care clinics. They are a threat to the health and autonomy of women and those who have the capacity to become pregnant. According to the National Women’s Health Network  “the counselors [at fake clinics] aren’t medical providers and they aren’t required to give out medically accurate information—as long as they don’t charge for their services, it’s ‘free speech.’” Vice Magazine reported  that for every one abortion clinic in the U.S. there are four fake clinics. These clinics pose a genuine threat to public health.
The South Florida Anti-Repression Committee stands by the four people being unjustly and aggressively prosecuted and now sued in an effort to stop pro-choice protest. Threatening people with 12 years in federal prison for graffiti is a shocking abuse of power, especially when anti-abortion activists harass and intimidate those seeking and providing reproductive healthcare on a daily basis with little repercussion.
photo: Markus Spiske via Unsplash