A federal judge in a case involving 10 pro-life defendants indicted on charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and engaging in a “conspiracy against rights” has proposed that a right to abortion may be found in the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment, ratified in 1865, prohibits slavery and indentured servitude.
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly argued that it “is entirely possible that the Court might have held in Dobbs [v. JWHO] that some other provision of the Constitution provided a right to access reproductive services had that issue been raised.” To support her claim, Judge Kollar-Kotelly quoted law professor Andrew Koppelman, who maintains that restrictions on abortion turn women into “a servant caste, a group that, by virtue of a status of birth, is held subject to a special duty to serve others and not themselves.”
Anyone not completely blinded by ideology who has read Dobbs would know that it is virtually inconceivable that any justice, much less a majority of justices on the Supreme Court, would hold that the Thirteenth Amendment protects abortion.
In response to a motion by the defendants to dismiss the charges, Judge Kollar-Kotelly ordered the prosecution and defense to provide briefing on whether the Thirteenth Amendment supports a right to abortion. This opens the door for amicus “friend of the Court” briefs from extremists like Koppelman and others who view children as an insufferable burden akin to slavery.
Life Legal represents a defendant in the case, which stems from a 2020 prayer vigil and rescue outside a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic run by notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo. Participants in the event tried to encourage women to choose life for their babies and to warn them about Santangelo’s practice. Santangelo has been a defendant in a number of medical malpractice suits, including a pending lawsuit involving a botched second trimester abortion that resulted in severe hemorrhage, intestinal tears, and perforated uterus.*
Under President Biden, the U.S. Department of Justice is aggressively prosecuting pro-lifers for alleged FACE Act violations in cases that would otherwise be a simple trespass at most. Life Legal is representing several clients facing civil and criminal FACE actions arising from their involvement in lawful pro-life speech.
The FACE (“Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances”) Act prohibits using force or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, or interfere with someone entering an abortion clinic. In the D.C. case, the defendants did not meet any of these elements. In fact, our client was attacked and pushed to the ground by an abortion worker.
If convicted, the pro-life defendants face up to 11 years in federal prison plus three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $260,000.
Congress is currently holding hearings on the weaponization of the FBI and DOJ against Americans, including those engaged in pro-life activities.
*The abortionist was also a defendant in a wrongful death case involving a young mother whose baby had died in utero. The mother was referred to Santangelo to deliver the baby and she died shortly after of a blood clotting disorder resulting from Santangelo’s negligence. An autopsy found that parts of the baby were found in the woman’s lungs, which means Santangelo perforated her uterus.