A Washington D.C. jury has found five pro-life activists guilty of violating federal law for attempting to prevent abortions of unborn babies at the D.C.-based Washington Surgi-Clinic late-term abortion facility in October of 2020.
Lauren Handy, Will Goodman, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, and Herb Geraghty were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to interfere with civil rights and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
Now the five pro-life advocates are being held in prison awaiting sentencing. Each defendant faces up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000. They will be held in prison until sentencing is scheduled at a later date.
As CBN News reported, the five pro-lifers named in this trial – plus another five pro-life activists – made plans for a sit-in protest at the facility. They sang, prayed out loud, locked arms in front of the facility’s staff entrance, and attached themselves to rope and chains to block doors in the building as a means to “delay the murder of kids.”
Handy, who is the lead defendant in this trial, made headlines last year after authorities recovered the fully formed bodies of five aborted babies that she had discovered. But rather than investigating the deaths of the late-term babies, authorities went after Handy instead.
According to court documents, Handy pretended to be a woman seeking abortion services and scheduled an appointment on October 22, 2020.
Police arrived at the clinic and attempted to remove the pro-lifers who were indicted on the claims that they conspired to obstruct the “right to reproductive health services.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sanjay Patel blamed Handy, who is an activist with the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), for the incident.
“This entire event, the invasion, the blockade, this case—it’s all because of her,” the DOJ attorney said Thursday, according to WUSA9.
In statements on X, formerly called Twitter, the PAAU has stated that its defense attorneys, The Thomas More Society, believe they have “strong grounds to appeal and feel optimistic that a higher court will later rule in their favor.”
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.
— PAAU (@PAAUNOW) August 29, 2023
PAAU added, “Rescue CANNOT and will not be stopped. This case was an effort by the US government to isolate and intimidate Rescuers and anti-abortion people into believing they would face significant jail time for living in alignment with their pro-life values.”
The Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm defending life, family, and freedom, confirmed their plans to appeal in a statement.
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“We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome,” said Martin Cannon, senior counsel with the Thomas More Society. “Ms. Handy has been condemned for her efforts to protect the lives of innocent preborn human beings, something she should never have been arrested for.”
He added, “We are preparing an appeal and will continue to defend those who fight for life against a Biden Department of Justice that seems intent on prosecuting those who decry abortion and present it as it is—the intentional killing of children in utero.”
Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action says the jury’s decision has set “a horrific precedent for jailing Americans for exercising their 1st Amendment rights.”
“From the beginning, this trial has been a sham with a completely biased pro-abortion judge who has made a mockery of our justice system. This decision will be appealed, and we demand it be overturned. These activists are heroes, and the Department of Justice has acted capriciously and illegitimately. These charges stem from the FACE Act, which exists to target and chill the free speech of pro-life Americans,” she said in a statement. “Their acts of bravery to protect innocent human life from notorious D.C. abortionist Cesare Santangelo have been punished by the corrupt DOJ.”
Handy defense attorneys wanted to submit to the court a 2012 Live Action undercover investigative video of Dr. Cesare Santangelo, who runs WSC, admitting that any children accidentally born alive during abortions would not receive any medical assistance to survive — neglect that is illegal under federal law.
They contend that video evidence compelled Handy to leave her full-time job in order to save the lives of preborn babies and choose WSC as a place for her activism.
However, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly claimed without proof that the video was “heavily edited,” claiming the abortionist’s video confession is just “gossip from propagandists.”
Lila Rose said, “I stand with these activists who have been unjustly convicted and demand authentic justice for these advocates working to end the barbaric killing of abortion.”