A man with strong anti-abortion stances has pleaded guilty to attacking a Planned Parenthood clinic, twice.
The man, 27-year-old Devin Friedrick Kruse, pleaded guilty to two charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, according to an official release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the statement from Monday, Kruse broke windows and attacked other pieces of property at a Planned Parenthood in Grants Pass, Oregon, a small city 140 miles south of Eugene. His case was investigated by the FBI and with help from Grants Pass police.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate unlawful and violent conduct that interferes with the work of reproductive health clinics,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said about Kruse’s conviction. “This conviction should send a strong message that we will use federal civil rights law to protect clinics and staff that provide reproductive health services while safeguarding the rights of their patients.”
Kruse first attacked the Grants Pass Planned Parenthood on November 23, damaging “five security cameras, a window and a sign.” He returned three days later to continue his assault on the building, throwing a concrete block through a window, tearing down an intercom system and smashing several lightbulbs. When admitting his crimes to investigators, Kruse said that he attacked the clinic “because he was angry at Planned Parenthood for providing abortion services.”
“The First Amendment does not allow individuals to violate the civil rights of others,” Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, said in a statement. “In this case, Mr. Kruse’s destructive and intimidating acts prevented women from accessing vital reproductive and pregnancy health services.”
The DOJ statement reported that Kruse on February 24 was charged with misdemeanor violations of the FACE Act. Under that act, an individual’s first offenses for property destruction are treated as misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison. Subsequent charges are treated as felonies. Kruse is set to be sentenced on January 5.
“In 1994, Congress passed the FACE Act in response to an increase in violence toward patients and providers of reproductive health service,” the DOJ statement explained. “The FACE Act prohibits violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with an individual’s right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
The conflict over abortion rights in the U.S. was reignited over the summer when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that protected the right to abortions at the federal level for nearly five decades. In the wake of the decision, numerous states enacted trigger laws that outlawed abortion within their borders to varying, but generally strict degrees.
Oregon, conversely, has strong abortion protections on its books. According to the website Abortion Finder, the practice is not outlawed in the state at any point in a pregnancy, and underage patients do not need to seek parental consent to receive that procedure.
Newsweek has reached out to the FBI for comment.