". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


After FACE Act Convictions, Pro-Lifers Fight to Stay Out of Jail

August 31, 2023

Pro-lifers are fighting to stay out of jail after being convicted of federal crimes by a Washington, D.C. jury. Five pro-life activists with the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) organization were convicted Tuesday of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and were immediately jailed.

Lauren Handy, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, William Goodman, and Herb Geraghty were accused of blockading the Washington Surgi-Clinic abortion facility in 2020. Four other defendants — Jonathan Darnel, Paulette Harlow, Jean Marshall, and Joan Bell — will stand trial on the same charges starting September 6.

In a written statement to The Washington Stand, director of Citizens for A Pro-Life Society and co-founder of Red Rose Rescue Dr. Monica Miller said, “Make no mistake — the incredible injustice of the federal court today is unprecedented in the history of the pro-life movement.” She further explained, “The jury convicted the rescuers of FACE [Act violations] and ‘conspiracy to interfere with civil rights’; the latter charge carries a 10-year prison term. The sentencing will not occur until the next four rescuers are tried beginning September 6 — yet they were all immediately hauled off to federal prison…”

Lila Rose, founder and director of Live Action, commented on Twitter, “This trial has been a sham with a biased pro-abortion judge who has made a mockery of our justice system. This decision will be appealed & we demand it be overturned.” PAAU posted on Twitter that defense attorneys plan to appeal the conviction. “The defense attorneys feel they have strong grounds to appeal and feel optimistic that a higher court will later rule in their favor. This may even go all the way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, our hero rescuers await sentencing.”

The Washington Surgi-Clinic the pro-lifers were protesting is run by Cesare Santangelo, known as a late-term abortionist who has repeatedly refused to provide life-saving care to babies who survive his abortion attempts.

The Thomas More Society, which is representing Handy, filed an emergency jail release request on Wednesday, petitioning the court not to detain the pro-lifer while she awaits sentencing. In a statement, Thomas More Society senior counsel Martin Cannon said Handy “has become a victim of the merciless drive by Biden’s Department of Justice to prosecute those who are trying to protect preborn human beings. To add to that injustice, she was incarcerated when the true violence continues to be committed against innocent children.”

The immediate jailing of the pro-lifers is a result of Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s determination that the FACE Act violation was a “crime of violence.” Thomas More Society senior counsel Steve Crampton argued, “That is outrageous. These pro-life advocates committed no violence during their protest at the abortion facility as they kneeled and prayed, distributed pro-life literature, and counseled women considering abortions. The real violence is what happens to an innocent child during an abortion procedure.”

Miller commented, “I was in court observing this trial for seven days. I watched video after video of this rescue and these pro-lifers never engaged in any violence on any level! Indeed, they were subjected to violence from the Washington Surgi-Clinic staff — shoved, pushed, and beaten with a broomstick!”

Handy had said she and others were inspired to plan the protest after seeing a Live Action undercover video exposing Santangelo for allowing born-alive babies to die. Kollar-Kotelly refused to allow the video to be played in court, dismissing it as “gossip from propagandists.” The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department confirmed Tuesday that it is investigating Santangelo and his abortion facility for potential crimes, stemming from Handy’s discovery in 2022 of the fetal remains of over 100 aborted babies from Santangelo’s facility, including five which were reportedly already born when they were aborted.

Jonathan Darnel, whose trial begins on Wednesday, told The Washington Stand, “The whole abortion industry is a criminal enterprise and we need stop legitimizing it out of fear. I’m willing to endure these unjust consequences if my suffering gives courage to others and abortion ends even one day sooner.”

Sentencing for all nine defendants is not expected to take place until later this year. All those convicted will be held in prison until that time, as ordered by judge Kollar-Kotelly, and face up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $350,000.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.