A federal judge this week refused to dismiss charges against an anti-abortion activist who allegedly tried to prevent a woman from entering a Planned Parenthood facility.
Richard Retta was charged earlier this year with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act at a clinic near Washington D.C. in January 2011.
In a complaint (PDF) filed by the Justice Department in July, Retta is described as one of the most “vocal and aggressive anti-abortion protesters.”
The government says that he “physically obstructed a patient from entering the Clinic, and physically obstructed Clinic escorts, such that the patient was only able to ultimately access the Clinic with the extraordinary assistance and intervention of another Clinic escort and staff.”
After following the patient down the walkway, Retta allegedly stood in front of clinic entrance and yelled at the patient, “Don’t go in there! Don’t let them kill your baby!”
Retta filed a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the government failed to show the woman was there to receive “reproductive services.”
“Ultimately, the court concludes that the statute focuses on the defendant’s motive, not the target’s conduct,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote in his 12-page ruling (PDF). “A FACE Act complaint, therefore, need only contain allegations establishing that a defendant acted under the belief that his alleged victims were obtaining or providing reproductive health services; allegations that they were in fact doing so, accordingly are not required.”
Boasberg also said that the government could seek $5,000 in statutory damages.
Heritage Foundation legal fellow Hans A. von Spakovsky has claimed that “[n]early 350 women have kept their children” after speaking to Retta.
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