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An Ohio woman pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge for defacing a pro-life reproductive health clinic earlier this year, with the potential of facing jail time for the act.
“Defacing facilities that provide reproductive health services will not be tolerated in our society,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said of the plea. “The Justice Department is committed to enforcing the FACE Act to protect all patients who seek reproductive health services and all persons and facilities that provide such services.”
Whitney M. Durant, also known as Soren Monroe, admitted to painting the words “LIARS,” “Fake clinic,” “Fund Abortion,” “Abort God” and “Jane’s Revenge” on the HerChoice clinic in Bowling Greens, Ohio. Durant, 20, attended Bowling Green State University at the time of the incident on April 15.
Clarke acknowledged the right to protest but stressed that such protest must remain peaceful and argued that Durant had “crossed a line” by defacing the clinic, which does not provide abortion services or refer anyone to such services, according to the clinic’s website.
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Ohio allows for abortion up until the point of viability, which is “the stage of pregnancy when a fetus has developed enough that it is able to survive outside the uterus with medical help,” according to Abortion Finder’s info guide. The actual point of viability remains a point of contention.
Voters in Ohio also recently supported a referendum that would enshrine abortion into the state’s constitution as a guaranteed protection, but lawmakers have vowed to fight that decision.
HerChoice, also known as the Bowling Green Pregnancy Center (BGPC), provides free pregnancy and STI testing, ultrasounds, parenting classes and supplies for infants and toddlers.
The Justice Department charged Durant under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which prohibits a person from intentionally damaging or destroying the property of a facility because that facility provides reproductive health services.
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“As reflected by today’s guilty plea, the United States will enforce federal laws that protect uninterrupted access to all clinics providing reproductive health services, whether they provide women with options that include abortion care or whether they solely encourage women to consider non-abortion alternatives,” U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Durant on July 5, and if convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after it reviews the various factors of the case, including any prior record Durant has, her role in the offense and the character of the violations.
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Durant will face sentencing on April 9, 2024. The maximum sentence for the charge is one year in prison.
At the time of the incident, HerChoice issued a statement saying, “We are grateful to local and federal law enforcement for diligently working our vandalism case which has led to federal charges being filed.
“Our desire is for Bowling Green to be a peaceful community where diverse ideas can be communicated in respectful, non-violent ways. HerChoice has been and will continue to be a place where women can turn to know their options and to know that they are not alone when facing a pregnancy decision.”