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Jailed DC pro-lifer Lauren Handy sentenced to 4 years in prison by pro-abortion judge

Pro-life advocate Lauren Handy was sentenced to four years in prison and a $125 fine on Tuesday, in the first of Tuesday’s sentencing hearings for the first batch of pro-lifers convicted last year of blocking access to a late-term abortion facility in the nation’s capital.

On August 29, 2023, a D.C. jury found Handy, Will Goodman, Heather Idoni, John Hinshaw, and Rosemary “Herb” Geraghty guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and “conspiracy against rights.” The next month, Joan Andrews Bell, Jonathan Darnel, and Jean Marshall were convicted of the same; Paulette Harlow’s conviction came in November.

Tuesday’s hearings, before U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, began with Handy, the activism director of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), starting at 9:00 AM. Hinshaw and Goodman are also being sentenced today in the nation’s capital.

As LifeSiteNews has extensively reported, the pro-lifers stood trial for blocking access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in downtown Washington, D.C., in a “traditional rescue” in October 2020.

Pro-life “rescues,” of which there were many in the early days of the pro-life movement before the FACE Act became federal law, involve physically entering abortion centers and refusing to leave in an effort to convince women to choose life for their babies. (Washington Surgi-Clinic is also where five late-term aborted babies were discovered who may have either been killed by illegal partial-birth abortion procedures or after live birth).

Following the convictions, Handy and most of the co-defendants were denied release while awaiting sentencing. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department filed sentencing memos calling for Handy to serve between 5.25 and 6.5 years in prison, and for the rest of the defendants to serve a minimum of two years. On Monday, Kollar-Kotelly ruled in favor of multiple sentencing enhancements, including obstruction of justice for alleged perjury at trial and for their “victims” (i.e., abortion facility clients) being “vulnerable.”

Handy’s technical sentence was four years and nine months, minus the nine months she has already spent in prison.

“This time has been challenging but I refuse to be jaded. Why? Because life goes on… even in jail,” Handy said on Tuesday morning prior to her sentencing. “So I might as well continue to love and cry and scream and dance. That is joy. The feeling of being fully alive without shame. Which is something no court can take from me.”

“There was only one thing around which Ms. Handy and her co-defendants were unified, and that was nonviolence,” said Martin Cannon, senior counsel of the Thomas More Society which is representing Handy. “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. For her efforts to peacefully protect the lives of innocent preborn human beings, Ms. Handy deserves thanks, not a gut-wrenching prison sentence. We will vigorously pursue an appeal of Ms. Handy’s conviction and attack the root cause of this injustice, that is, the FACE Act – which we believe is unconstitutional and should never again be used to persecute peaceful pro-lifers.”

“Today the Biden Administration and Merrick Garland’s DOJ have reached a new level of tyranny,” responded Terrisa Bukovinac, the founder of PAAU. “There is no other social justice movement in our nation whose activists are subject to years in federal prison for nonviolent resistance. This blatant viewpoint discrimination has incalculable consequences for babies, their parents, those who defend them, and for peaceful activists across movements worldwide. I continue to stand by Lauren and the other 8 defendants who risked their freedoms to stand in defense of the least of us.”

The cases are the latest in what pro-lifers condemn as a pattern of the pro-abortion Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) weaponizing the criminal justice system to crush its political enemies.

Since May 2022, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade was first leaked, “there have been at least 236 attacks on Catholic churches and at least 90 attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers,” the Daily Signal reported. Yet the DOJ “charged only pro-life activists with FACE Act violations in 2022, and has since charged only five individuals with violating the FACE Act by targeting pregnancy centers.” At the same time, it has zealously pursued incidents involving pro-lifers, from the D.C. defendants to Philadelphia sidewalk counselor and Catholic father of seven Mark Houck.

Several of the D.C. Nine have endured mistreatment while in custody above and beyond the charges and sentencing themselves. Heather Idoni, 59, was placed in prolonged solitary confinement for 22 days and deprived of sleep with the lights of her cell kept on continually. Jean Marshall, 74, was deprived of sufficient clothing and heat during extreme freezing winter cold, causing her to contract pneumonia which went untreated for three weeks, and was denied urgent hip surgery. Paulette Harlow, 75, was refused permission to attend Catholic Mass while under house arrest.

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