Written by Ashton Snyder on
 May 15, 2024

Pro-Life Activist Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Protest

Pro-life activist Lauren Handy was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for blocking the entrance of a Washington, DC, abortion clinic in 2020.

According to Breitbart News, Lauren Handy received a sentence of four years and nine months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, on Tuesday.

This decision was made by a federal jury in Washington, DC, which convicted Handy and several other activists last year for violating the FACE Act and conspiring against rights. Her sentencing is part of a larger case involving several activists and has stirred controversy over the use of the FACE Act against pro-life activists.

Convictions and Sentencing Details

The charges against Handy and her co-defendants could have led to a sentence of up to 11 years in prison and $350,000 in fines. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of up to six-and-a-half years for Handy, while her attorneys sought a more lenient 12-month sentence. Handy’s sentence will include credit for time served.

Handy’s nine co-defendants include Jonathan Darnel, Jay Smith, John Hinshaw, William Goodman, Joan Bell, Paulette Harlow, Jean Marshall, Heather Idoni, and Herb Geraghty. John Hinshaw was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison on Tuesday, while Jay Smith received a 10-month sentence last year. Hinshaw, Idoni, and Goodman were all scheduled for sentencing on the same day as Handy.

Darnel, Geraghty, Marshall, and Bell are set to be sentenced on Wednesday, with Harlow's sentencing scheduled for May 31. The activists’ actions, dubbed an "invasion," took place in October 2020 when they gained access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic by scheduling an appointment under a false name.

Details of the 2020 Protest

Prosecutors alleged that during the protest, a clinic nurse sprained her ankle, and activists blocked a woman from entering the clinic. The Department of Justice charged Handy and eight others in March 2022 with conspiracy against rights and FACE Act offenses. This occurred the same month Handy, and Terrisa Bukovinac claimed to have discovered the remains of approximately 115 aborted babies in a waste box from the Washington Surgi-Clinic.

Handy’s attorneys were not allowed to use a 2013 undercover video of Dr. Cesare Santangelo or evidence of the 115 aborted babies during the trial. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly criticized Handy, stating she showed no compassion toward women seeking abortions. Before her sentencing, Handy submitted a statement discussing her experience and mental state while in jail. She reflected on her time in prison, expressing that despite the challenges, she maintained her resolve and found peace within herself.

Controversy Over FACE Act Enforcement

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the DOJ has increased the number of charges against pro-life activists under the FACE Act. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta emphasized the urgency of enforcing the FACE Act following the end of Roe v. Wade. Despite numerous attacks on pregnancy centers since the Dobbs leak, only a few pro-abortion activists have been arrested.

Attorney General Merrick Garland explained that the discrepancy in enforcement is due to pro-life activists committing crimes during the day, while pro-abortion activists tend to strike at night. This has led to calls from activists and some Republicans for the repeal of the FACE Act.

Martin Cannon, senior counsel for the Thomas More Society, criticized the court’s decision, highlighting the peaceful nature of Handy and her co-defendants. He stated, “They conspired to be peaceful. Yet, today, the Court granted the Biden Department of Justice its wish by sentencing Ms. Handy to 57 months—nearly 5 years in prison.”

Handy’s attorneys from the Thomas More Society emphasized that some activists only kneeled and prayed, distributed pro-life literature, or chained themselves together inside the facility. Terrisa Bukovinac, who supported Handy, condemned the sentence, calling it a "blatant viewpoint discrimination" with severe consequences for peaceful activists worldwide.

In conclusion, Lauren Handy’s sentencing for her role in the 2020 abortion clinic protest has sparked significant controversy. The case, involving several pro-life activists, has highlighted debates over the enforcement of the FACE Act and the treatment of nonviolent resistance in social justice movements.


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About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
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