Pro-life Christian dad of 11 escapes prison sentence for protesting abortion: 'Spiritual battle'

Paul Vaughn with his wife outside the federal courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was sentenced to three years of supervised release on July 2, 2024.
Paul Vaughn with his wife outside the federal courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was sentenced to three years of supervised release on July 2, 2024. | Thomas More Society

A devout Christian father of 11 children avoided prison time during his Tuesday sentencing for violating a federal law against blocking access to abortion clinics in Nashville, Tennessee.

Paul Vaughn was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger to three years of supervised release related to his January conviction by a federal jury on charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and engaging in a conspiracy against rights in 2021.

In October 2022, Vaughn was one of originally 11 people indicted for blocking the entrance to the Carafem Health Center Clinic in the Nashville suburb of Mt. Juliet on March 15, 2021.

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Seven of the 11 defendants faced conspiracy charges under the FACE Act, while the remaining defendants were charged with misdemeanors that carried a punishment of up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

After being indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Oct. 3, 2022, the FBI arrested Vaughn in front of his family during an early morning raid at his home.

Vaughn has spoken about how his children have been afflicted with nightmares since the raid and said he would have been willing to "come down at any time" to speak with federal officials about his charges.

Trauger maintained during Vaughn's sentencing hearing on Tuesday that he and the others had been "imposing their religious beliefs on other people," though she conceded that their demonstration was non-violent and hurt no one, according to The Daily Wire.

The judge also acknowledged that Vaughn's actions were motivated by his deeply held religious beliefs and took into consideration the fact that he is a U.S. Navy veteran who commands the respect of those in his community.

Vaughn said he plans to appeal the verdict and glorified God for his sentence, framing it as a battle in a wider spiritual war.

“We rejoice in God’s plans," Vaughn said in a statement. "Because this is at the heart a spiritual battle, we are thankful to have a strong advocate in the Thomas More Society. Not only are they experts at law, but they deeply understand the spiritual battle raging across our land."

"We must stand and fight for what is right, we cannot bow down to the lie," he said. "Laws have to be grounded in truth, they have to align with the ultimate lawgiver, who is Christ our Lord. The false narratives plaguing our nation will fall when we stand up to them."

Vaughn went on to characterize his prosecution as an "unlawful use of the law," and expressed hope that the Clinton-era FACE Act, which has been used to prosecute multiple pro-life protesters under the Biden administration, will be overturned.

Concerns about the constitutionality of the FACE Act have recently arisen in both houses of Congress, and legislation has been introduced to repeal it.

The nonprofit religious liberty law firm Thomas More Society, which helped to represent Vaughn, celebrated that he won't be in prison, but also expressed frustration that he is being punished at all.

“We are pleased the judge has shown leniency to Paul at today’s sentencing hearing, and I know Paul is incredibly thankful to be able to celebrate Independence Day with his family. But it remains the case that his conviction is a deep injustice," Thomas More Society senior counsel Steve Crampton said in a statement.

Crampton also noted the irony that Vaughn's hearing took place on July 2, the day the Continental Congress formally passed the resolution in 1776 declaring America's freedom.

"On the anniversary of our nation’s charter declaring such rights 'inalienable,' Paul Vaughn and his co-defendants stand convicted of defending the inalienable right to life,"  Crampton said. "The weaponized and evidence-free charges brought here by the Biden Department of Justice against peaceful pro-lifers should have never been filed."

More than 100 of Vaughn's supporters showed up outside the federal court before his sentencing on Tuesday to sing hymns and pray, according to The Daily Wire.

Eva Edl, an 88-year-old whose family escaped the communist rule of then-Yugoslavia, was also among those who was charged for the protest in Nashville.

In April, Edl told The Daily Signal that she is already resigned to the possibility that she will be imprisoned until the end of her life for her protests.

Edl further noted that the U.S. government is increasingly resembling the communist regime her family escaped.

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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