In October, 2020, five pro-life activists, Lauren Handy, Will Goodman, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni and Herb Geraghty participated in the rescue action at the D.C. based abortion facility, Washington Surgi-Clinic (WSC).
On Tuesday, they were found guilty of violating the FACE Act.
The now-named “leader” of the group, Handy, made an appointment at the WSC under a fake name. When the clinic staff opened the door, a slew of pro-life activists emerged through the building’s emergency stairwell where they formed a blockade for roughly three hours, until authorities arrived. Supposedly the incident led to an altercation which left a clinic employee with an ankle injury.
As a result, prosecutors accused, and now charged, many in the group of violating the FACE Act which prohibits the use of physical force, threats of force or intentional damaging of property to prevent someone from obtaining or providing abortions.
According to Handy’s body-cam, Handy told officers she was there to “block the facility to prevent abortions,” but her attorney indicated that Handy had not physically blocked anyone or violated the FACE Act. A Facebook Live video documented the incident and one pro-life activist, Jonathan Darnel, was heard saying, “As long as they’re in there, no woman can go in to kill their children. We shall delay the murder of kids as long as we can in this building,” according to Life News.
Handy and Geraghty were inspired to enter the clinic after seeing footage from inside the clinic that indicated its inhumane and radical abortion procedures. The clinic is run by Cesare Santangelo. Santangelo has been recorded on video saying that if a child was born alive during an abortion, the clinic “would not help it” and “We wouldn’t intubate, let’s say.” The video was obtained during a Live Action undercover investigation called “Inhuman,” and after watching it in college, Handy dropped out to join the pro-life movement.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly refused to admit into evidence @LiveAction investigative footage that showed late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo stating his willingness to let a newborn die from neglect and lack of medical care while acknowledging this as a federal crime. pic.twitter.com/7b77NprmCR
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) August 29, 2023
As a reminder, this is the same clinic where five preemie-sized aborted babies’ bodies as well as over 100 pulverized remains of first-trimester babies were found back in March of 2022. That situation isn’t involved in this case but still points out the fact that Handy was and is merely trying to fight for the lives of innocent kids. There’s not really much more to it.
Flash forward to now, the courtroom was heavily stacked against the pro-lifers. When the first trial began this month, it became abundantly clear that many of the potential jurors had previously donated to Planned Parenthood and took part in pro-abort marches.
As evidence emerged, Hinshaw’s attorney indicated that though the pro-lifers are on trial and being accused of violence, the only violence that took place was conducted by the clinic staff members, not the pro-lifers. One even wielded a broomstick towards the life affirmers, Life News reported.
Defendants insisted that the pro-lifers were not there to break any laws but rather “fight for the truth and for the lives of innocent children,” as Life News reported. Though the undercover video of Santangelo was submitted into evidence, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected it, calling it “gossip from propagandists” and insisted that it was “heavily edited.”
The pro-lifers were charged Tuesday with conspiracy against rights and FACE Act violation and though the case will go through the appeals process, the pro-lifers face up to 11 years in prison. Presently the group of five have been taken into custody after the conviction and are awaiting their sentencing.
Amid the news, pro-life groups and individuals expressed their distaste with the verdict.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said it was “a shameful day for a nation founded on unalienable rights, first and foremost including life.”
In response to the verdict Live Action’s Lila Rose said the following in a post on X.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly has repeatedly shown her pro-abortion bias during this trial and made a total mockery of our justice system. She failed to know decades-old abortion laws, openly mocked the defendants, and refused key evidence to the defense.
In a subsequent tweet she added:
This potential sentencing of 11 years in prison is a blatant abuse of political power against pro-lifers. The FACE Act was created with the explicit purpose of targeting pro-life Americans who are using their free speech to protect the right to life of vulnerable preborn children.
It’s a shame how favored pro-aborts are in our justice system and this is just another example of how evident that is.