The U.S. Department of Justice indicted two Florida residents Tuesday for attacks on crisis pregnancy resource centers in the Sunshine state. The federal charges mark the first indictments after dozens of attacks following the leak of the Supreme Court's draft opinion that overturned Roe. V. Wade.
Caleb Freestone, 27, and Amber Smith-Stewart, 23, were charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACES) Act and "engaged in a conspiracy to prevent employees of reproductive health services facilities from providing those services," according to the indictment.
The FACES Act prohibits any use of force or intimidation against anyone seeking an abortion or anyone exercising their First Amendment right to religious freedom. It also prohibits the intentional damage or destruction of a reproductive healthcare facility or place of worship.
Freestone and Smith-Stewart and other co-conspirators are accused of spray-painting threats including, "If abortions aren't safe than niether (sic) are you," "YOUR TIME IS UP!!" "WE'RE COMING FOR U," and "We are everywhere," at a pregnancy facility in Winter Haven, Florida.
The pair also targeted pregnancy resource centers in Hollywood, Florida, and Hialeah, Florida.
Since June, at least 63 pro-life organizations, have been attacked in the wake of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision which was leaked on May 2, according to a recent report by the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI).
According to the group, pro-abortion activists have also attacked 32 Catholic churches, and in 17 of those cases revealed a pro-abortion motive in their graffiti or in the vandalizing of religious pro-life memorials and symbols.
If convicted, Freestone and Smith-Stewart face up to a maximum of 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000.
According to National Review, Smith-Stewart's Facebook page shows apparent support for Antifa. Her cover page includes a photo of an Antifa flag and includes profile pictures with Antifa stickers that say, "Fight all governments there's no authority but yourself" and, "make racists afraid again."
She also posted a picture of a burning American flag.
"We hope the DOJ continues to take action against the dozens of unsolved attacks that pregnancy centers are enduring across the country," Denise Harle, Senior Counsel and Director of the Center for Life with Alliance Defending Freedom, told CBN News in a statement.
"Pregnancy centers are here to provide free services for women's medical, material, and emotional needs, while abortion businesses prey on their desperation and try to convince them that abortion is their only option—all for profit," she added.
Freestone and Smith-Stewart's indictments come less than a week after the FBI announced a $25,000 reward for information related to a series of attacks and threats targeting crisis pregnancy centers.
"Today's announcement reflects the FBI's commitment to vigorously pursue investigations into crimes against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and reproductive health clinics across the country," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement released last week.
Wray continued, "We will continue to work closely with our national, state, and local law enforcement partners to hold responsible anyone who uses extremist views to justify their criminal actions."
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Hurd, director of the North America Action Team for the Religious Freedom Institute, tells CBN News in a statement:
"These indictments are encouraging. Hopefully they foreshadow more federal investigations and prosecutions of criminals who attack prolife organizations and religious sites like churches and schools.
Federal indictments against prolife advocates, regarding access to abortion facilities, have been abundant. Indictments against perpetrators of attacks against Catholic churches and prolife organizations have been absent, even though the attackers committed crimes like arson, desecration, property destruction, and threatening violence. These crimes have been violent violations of religious freedom, and federal authorities should investigate, arrest, and prosecute perpetrators with zeal. America must be a place where disagreements about contentious matters remain peaceful. Accountability for violent criminals is essential to preventing violent crimes."