Pro-Life Activist Suspects Intimidation Tactic After FBI Agents Visit Her Parents’ Home

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
May 18, 2023Politics
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Pro-Life Activist Suspects Intimidation Tactic After FBI Agents Visit Her Parents’ Home
A seal reading "Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation" is displayed on the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building in Washington, on Aug. 9, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

A pair of FBI agents visited the home of the parents of pro-life activist Elise Ketch last month in an incident that was caught on her mother’s Ring doorbell camera.

The FBI visit took place on April 18 and the video from the encounter was first published by the Daily Signal on Wednesday. Ketch, who works for the politically left-wing pro-life organization Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), told the Daily Signal that she still doesn’t know why the FBI agents went to her parents’ home, but she suspects it was an intimidation tactic.

In the April 18 doorbell video, a pair of female FBI agents who identified themselves as Ashley Roberts and Kathleen Brown asked to speak with Elise Ketch. Her mother, Tracy Ketch, told the FBI agents that her daughter no longer lived at that residence, and asked why they had come to visit.

“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.”

As the conversation went on, Tracy Ketch asked why the FBI was trying to get in contact with her daughter. Roberts repeatedly reassured Tracy Ketch that her daughter was not in trouble, but did not specify the reason they were looking for her.

“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 said. “And then, if she feels like talking to you, which I’m sure she will because it’s nothing—you know.”

In a second video from the encounter, Tracy Ketch can be heard speaking to Elise Ketch over the phone while the two FBI agents stand on her porch, watching and listening.

“I have two FBI agents at the front door,” Tracy Ketch told her daughter.

“FBI agents? Mom, don’t tell them anything. Don’t let them in. Don’t talk to them,” her daughter replied over the phone.

The exact reason for the FBI interaction remains unclear.

NTD News reached out to the FBI for comment, but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

DOJ Prosecuting Pro-Life Activists

In March of last year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged nine pro-life activists, including PAAU activists Lauren Handy, Jonathan Darnel, and Herb Geraghty. The pro-life activists are accused of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) during a protest outside a Washington D.C. abortion clinic in October of 2020.

The FACE Act prohibits people from using intimidation or physical force to block an abortion clinic entrance or house of worship. PAAU supports repealing the FACE Act.

The defendants each face up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $350,000 fine if convicted.

Last year, PAAU activists alerted law enforcement authorities to the aborted remains of five late-term babies. The organization believes the late gestational ages and apparent injuries to the fetal remains may be evidence of violations of the Partial Birth Abortion Act and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.

PAAU has held several protest events demanding an investigation into the deaths of the five babies. Elise Ketch was arrested at one such protest in Washington D.C. on March 23, along with six other PAAU activists.

In an emailed statement, Elise Ketch told NTD News that she’s had no follow-up from the FBI a full month after the two agents visited her parents’ home.

“While I have no idea what information the FBI was sent, I have a few guesses as to what was going on here. 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.”

“While the visit did make me concerned for the safety of my family, I refuse to back down,” Ketch added.

Terrisa Bukovinac, the founder and executive director of PAAU, said the FBI is actively targeting members of her organization because “our activism challenges the property lines of, and disrupts commerce for, the abortion industrial complex.”

“We are especially a problem for them because we are nonviolent and therefore our efforts and ideas are rapidly catching on. The feds are desperate to find a reason to shut us down and they’re not above coming to our parents’ homes to try to find what they’re looking for,” Bukovinac added.

In September of last year, FBI agents arrested Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck at his home over an altercation outside an abortion clinic the previous year. According to Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, the FBI raid involved dozens of armed agents who threatened to break down their door and pointed weapons at family members—an allegation the FBI has denied.

The DOJ alleged Houck had pushed 72-year-old clinic escort Bruce Love to the ground during an October 2021 protest. Houck’s legal team argued that the altercation actually began after Love began aggressively “harassing” Houck’s 12-year-old son during the protest. Houck was acquitted in a Philadelphia federal court in January.

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