FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL: Two agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited the childhood home of a pro-life activist and told the woman’s mother that they wanted to speak with her, according to footage obtained by The Daily Signal.
Elise Ketch is a member of the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a group of mostly left-leaning activists who believe that abortion is the murder of a human child. PAAU particularly gained prominence after the group exposed the bodies of five premie-sized aborted babies, known as “The Five,” from the clinic of Washington, D.C., abortionist Cesare Santangelo.
The 26-year-old officially joined PAAU in December 2022 after volunteering with the group for a few months.
Her entrance into the pro-life group came as PAAU activists Lauren Handy, Jonathan Darnel, and Herb Geraghty faced charges from the Justice Department for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services” (the DOJ has commonly used “obstruction” in charging pro-life activists with blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic).
The incidents that these activists were involved in all took place before they were members of PAAU, the group’s founder, Terrisa Bukovinac, told The Daily Signal. Ketch does not believe that she has ever been involved in any kind of activity that would allow authorities to bring FACE Act charges against her.
Ketch has participated in PAAU’s “Pink Rose Rescues,” wherein activists attempt to enter an abortion facility and “quietly hand out pink roses to people in the waiting room”—then leave upon being told that they are trespassing. The roses have information about pregnancy resources, such as the phone number for Let Them Live, Ketch explained.
She also participated in a nonviolent demonstration on March 23, 2022, where she and other PAAU members were arrested for blocking the street outside the Rayburn House Office Building as they sought to draw attention to “The Five.” It had been a year since their discovery of the baby bodies, and D.C. authorities have thus far stonewalled investigations into the babies’ deaths.
On April 18, around 2:45 p.m., FBI agents went to the home of Tracy Ketch, Elise Ketch’s mother. Ring camera footage provided to The Daily Signal shows two women standing on the front porch of Ketch’s childhood home in Woodbridge, Virginia. The women identified themselves as Ashley Roberts and Kathleen Brown.
“We are both with the FBI,” Roberts told Ketch’s mother. “We just need to speak with her regarding some information that was sent to us.”
When Tracy Ketch informed the agents that Ketch no longer lives at that residence, Roberts asked for Ketch’s residence or phone number.
“She’s not in any trouble,” Roberts assured Tracy Ketch with a smile, the footage shows. “We just have some information we need to ask her about.”
“We would tell you all the information because, like I said, she’s not in any trouble, but just out of respect for her, we’d like to speak with her first,” Roberts says, adding with a shrug, “and then, if she feels like talking to you, which I’m sure she will because it’s nothing … ”
More Ring camera footage viewed by The Daily Signal shows Ketch’s mother stepping onto the front porch and calling her daughter.
“I have two FBI agents at the front door,” she tells her daughter.
“FBI agents,” Ketch can be heard repeating, as Roberts breaks into a smile. “Mom, don’t tell them anything.”
“Ok, what do you want me to do?” she asks her daughter. As Ketch speaks, her mother waves the agents off the porch and opens the front door, stress written across her face.
The FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Signal for this story.
Elise Ketch told The Daily Signal that she has “no idea what information the FBI was sent” that would require her to talk to them. But she has a few guesses.
“My colleague at Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, Lauren Handy, is indicted under the FACE Act and is being prosecuted by the federal government,” she said. “It’s plausible that these FBI agents aimed to collect information from me to help build their case against her.”
“While they reassured my mother that I was not in trouble, it’s also possible that they see me as a threat due to my pro-life activism and intended to investigate me,” Ketch speculated. “Yet, to my knowledge, they never attempted to follow up with me or my attorney, so I believe the FBI’s true motive behind their visit to my parents’ home was to intimidate me and my team.”
The visit made her concerned for her family’s safety, Ketch said, adding, “I refuse to back down.”
“This weaponization of our government institutions protects the abortion industrial complex, and it reinforces that we must disrupt these unjust power structures,” she said. “The most prevalent domestic threat to our country is the murder of thousands of preborn people by abortion each day. It is not terrorism to nonviolently intervene and rescue these powerless children before their slaughter. I’m willing to risk my own freedom and sacrifice my rights in order to secure theirs.”
Bukovinac, PAAU’s founder, told The Daily Signal that she believes “the feds are desperate to find a reason to shut us down and they’re not above coming to our parents’s homes to try to find what they’re looking for.”
“The FBI is targeting PAAU members because our activism challenges the property lines of and disrupts commerce for the abortion industrial complex,” Bukovinac said. “We are especially a problem for them because we are nonviolent and therefore our efforts and ideas are rapidly catching on.”
The incident comes as Republicans accuse the Department of Justice of targeting pro-life activists, like Catholic father Mark Houck, who was arrested at gun point in front of his children (a jury later found him not guilty of the DOJ’s FACE Act charges).
Meanwhile, despite over 100 leftist attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation since the leak of the draft opinion showing Roe v. Wade would be overturned, the DOJ has only charged four people with FACE Act violations for these offenses.
And in December 2022, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said herself that the DOJ has been targeting pro-life activists through the FACE Act as a response to the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to overturn of Roe v. Wade.
The associate attorney general described the overturn of Roe v. Wade as a “devastating blow to women throughout the country” that took away “the constitutional right to abortion” and increased “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work—including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
As of early May 16, there have been at least 87 attacks on pregnancy resource centers and 157 attacks on Catholic churches since the May 2022 Dobbs leak, according to CatholicVote trackers. Many of these buildings have been vandalized with threats such as, “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” making the attacks incidents of suspected pro-abortion violence.
Pregnancy resource centers are typically run by pro-life women who seek to offer expectant mothers alternatives to abortion. Such centers provide diapers, baby clothes, and resources for both mothers and fathers, empowering them to care for their children, overcome addictions, build community, and find jobs.
Houck and his wife Ryan-Marie previously told The Daily Signal that they believe they were targeted by President Joe Biden’s Justice Department in an effort to intimidate, silence, and scare the family for their pro-life work—praying outside abortion clinics for the women headed inside to abort their unborn babies.
Content created by Mary Margaret Olohan
What are your thoughts on the story? Let us know in the comments below!