2 Tennessee women charged in NY with blocking clinic access

NEW YORK (AP) — Two Tennessee women were charged by federal prosecutors in New York on Friday with unlawfully blocking access to abortion clinics in several states over several years.

Bevelyn Beatty Williams, 31 and Edmee Chavannes, 41, both of Ooltewah, Tennessee, surrendered Friday to face charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

Williams said the two women “repeatedly attempted — including by using threats, and on at least one occasion, force — to prevent individuals from accessing their legal right to reproductive health services.”

Michael J. Driscoll, head of the FBI’s New York office, said the FBI “will continue to investigate these types of allegations to ensure individuals who seek legal reproductive health services may do so without fear or intimidation.”

The indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court charges Williams and Chavannes with using force, threats of force and physical obstruction “to injure, intimidate, and interfere with individuals because those individuals were seeking to obtain lawful reproductive health services or were providing such services” between 2019 and 2022.

In one instance, prosecutors said, Williams pressed her body against the door of a health center entrance and refused to move, preventing a volunteer from entering. As a health center staff member tried to open the door for the volunteer, Williams leaned against the door, crushing the staff member’s hand, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Williams and Chavannes blocked access to a Manhattan health facility at various times on June 19 and June 20, 2020, and livestreamed themselves on social media.

According to the indictment, Williams boasted on her June 19 livestream, “This is going to be a wonderful day. We are going to terrorize this place. And I want the manager to hear me say that. We are going to terrorize this place. More people are coming.”

The pair also blocked access to clinics in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, prosecutors said.

Information on attorneys for the two women wasn’t immediately available.

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