The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 (FACE) law
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 (commonly called the FACE
crisis pregnancy centers,
other reproductive health clinics,
churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other religious buildings.
"by establishing Federal criminal penalties and civil remedies for certain
violent, threatening, obstructive and destructive conduct that is intended to injure,
intimidate or interfere with persons." [from Section 2]
It is not generally realized that the FACE law protects both pro-choice abortion
clinics, and pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. It also assures people access to
worship in religious buildings without harassment.
Section 3 (a) of the law prohibits persons using force or physical
intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere with:
A person seeking access to a reproductive
A person providing a reproductive health service, or
A person attempting to access a religious service
Threats to do any of the above are also prohibited by the law. The FACE law also
applies to a person who intentionally damages or destroys property at a reproductive
health services clinic or religious building.
The FACE law does not "prohibit any expressive conduct (including
peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration)". [Section 3 (d)(1)].
In 1994-MAY, the FACE bill was signed into law by President Clinton. First-time offenders can
receive a sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Subsequent
offenses can increase the penalties to 3 years and $250,000.
The FACE law has often been associated with the judicial banning of picketing within a certain number
of feet of an abortion clinic. This concept of providing "buffer zones" is
unrelated to the FACE law. They have been created by judges who have used such zones when
Since being signed into law, FACE has survived a number of challenges on the basis of
first amendment rights (freedom of speech). It seems to have significantly reduced the
number of blockades of abortion clinics.