Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the concentration camp that Eva Edl survived was run by Soviets. The camp was actually run by the communist Yugoslav Partisans, who were not part of the Soviet regime. LifeSite apologizes for the error.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (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, Tennessee abortion facility, which has since been forced to stop committing abortions to comply with current state law.
The news comes amid a wave of federal indictments against pro-lifers under the heavily pro-abortion Biden administration, including the dramatic arrest of Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck by heavily-armed FBI agents last month.
Eleven Charged With FACE Act Violations Stemming From 2021 Blockade OF Mount Juliet Reproductive Health Clinic https://t.co/yUOva6Pu5D
— U.S Attorney-Middle District of Tennessee (@USAO_MDTN) October 5, 2022
According to an October 5 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, seven pro-lifers were charged Monday with “conspiracy against rights secured by the [Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances] Act and committing FACE Act violations.” Another four were charged solely with “FACE Act violations.”
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, Tennessee 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.
READ: Pro-life Catholic father Mark Houck pleads not guilty to federal charges after FBI raided his home
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 or 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.”
UPDATE (01/30/23): Mark Houck has been AQUITTED on both charges!
Thanks be to God LifeSiteNews can report that Mark Houck has been found "Not Guilty" on all counts today.
In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania spokeswoman and Houck family friend Ashley Garecht said “We rejoice and celebrate that Mark Houck has been found not guilty on all counts.”
“This case was always about a father’s right to protect his son, and never had anything to do with the FACE act,” she said. “We are grateful to the judge for his integrity, and to the jurors for their thoughtful deliberations. We are grateful to Mark’s attorneys who labored so diligently in his defense. And we are grateful for all of those who surrounded and supported Mark and his family in prayer through this challenging ordeal.”
“Most of all we praise and thank God for his protection and provision,” Garecht added. “To Him be all the glory.”
The Thomas More Society is set to hold a press conference today on the 6th street side of the James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia.
Monday’s verdict came after a tense weekend wait following a deadlocked jury on Friday.
Several hours into Monday’s deliberations after the jury reconvened, an alternate was chosen to replace one of the jurors. Just before 3:00 p.m. EST, the jury delivered its verdict, acquitting Houck on both charges.
Mark Houck, a pro-life Catholic father of 7, became the latest victim of an FBI raid and arrest on the morning of Friday September 23 — for supposed “FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act” violations — at his rural home as his children looked on “screaming.”
The arrest and raid stems from an altercation with a Planned Parenthood worker.
According to Mark’s wife Ryan-Marie, a “pro-abortion protester” would verbally harrass Mark's 12-year old son — hurling vulgar and derogatory statements.
When the protestor encroached in the boy's space, Mark defended his son. At that point, “Mark shoved him away from his child, and the guy fell back,” Ryan-Marie recounts.
The protestor was not injured, but he tried to sue Mark Houck for the assault but his case was thrown out of court in the early summer.
WE CANNOT ALLOW THE LEFT TO HARRASS PRO-LIFE ADVOCATES THIS WAY!
It's vital to stand in solidarity with a pro-family and pro-life man being unjustly persecuted - please SIGN & SHARE our message of support now.
In case you hadn't caught on already, the satanic Biden administration is waging war on Christians. https://t.co/E6ChpZVDYW— Michael (X) Knowles ✊ (@michaeljknowles) September 24, 2022
The description of this arrest sounds like it took place in a totalitarian state. A tragic unraveling of Justice in America. https://t.co/e3vEID7E39— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) September 25, 2022
If convicted, Houck faces up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000, according to the Justice Department.
Additional conservative pro-life leaders have weighed in — this is why we need your support ASAP.
“Just in the last few days we’ve seen some pretty glaring examples of what appear to be instances of DOJ [Department of Justice] overreach. You’ve got a Catholic father of seven who formed a group designed to encourage young men to be faithful to their commitments, arrested in front of his seven children just recently. You’ve got all these instances of overreach. It’s deeply concerning to us all. These are all things we’re gonna be looking into.” — US Senator Mike Lee
Tell the Houck family that you stand by them!
SIGN: We stand with pro-life Catholic dad of 7 raided by Biden’s FBI
Please share this petition widely. Let's stand in solidarity with Mark Houck and his family.
“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.
READ: FBI charges pro-life priest with violating abortion access law one week after Mark Houck raid
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 August 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.
This article has been updated to provide further information. This story is developing.