Three more pro-life advocates have been found guilty of violating a federal law protecting abortion centers and now face the possibility of 11 years in prison.
A total of 10 pro-life advocate face the federal criminal charges after they were arrested and indicted for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) in 2020 at the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, DC. That’s a late-term abortion facility suspected of breaking federal law by performing partial birth abortions and illegally allowing babies born aluive after failed abortions to die.
The three may spend a decade in prison for rescuing babies from abortion as the Biden administration continues its biased endorsement of a federal law that targets pro-life Americans who protest abortion businesses. They are facing federal charges after they prayed and sang hymns outside an abortion facility in Washington D.C. and then went inside to stop abortions from happening.
The FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act prohibits individuals from attempting to injure, intimidate, or interfere (by use of force, threat of force, or physical obstruction) with anyone obtaining or performing an abortion.
Jonathan Darnel of Arlington, Virginia; Jean Marshall of Kingston, Massachusetts; and Joan Bell of Montague, New Jersey, are charged with violating the law. The indictment in the case says that on Oct. 22, 2020, 10 individuals “conspired with one another and with others known and unknown to obstruct access” to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C.
“It was the purpose of the conspiracy to create a blockade to stop the clinic from providing and patients from obtaining reproductive health services,” the indictment alleges. The indictment says the defendants used “deception” to gain access to the clinic, used “force” to enter, and barricaded themselves inside with “ropes and chains.”
A video of the rescue shows the pro-life advocates praying and singing inside the abortion facility and refusing to leave so abortions could end the lives of unborn children.
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Today, all three were found guilty.
A pro-life advocate says the charges are wrong because the protests were non-violent.
Caroline Taylor Smith, executive director of PAAU told LifeNews, “This overreaching of power and authority by Biden’s DOJ is egregious and must be stopped. Nonviolent prolife actions should not be a federal crime, and peaceful people with a desire to save lives should not be jailed for over a decade. Some of these Rescuers could be facing death by incarceration. We must repeal the FACE Act now!”
Jonathan Darnel, one of the four pro-life Americans Biden is targeting in this second trial, plead not guilty to the charges.
“I am definitely not guilty of the charges leveled against me, which is rather ironic that I should find myself in this position,” Darnel told Fox News Digital in an interview. “Nevertheless, if a jury finds me guilty of FACE even erroneously, it would be an honor because the kids are worthy of protection.”
Another pro-life advocate criticized the Biden administration for selectively enforcing the FACE law, which is designed to protect not only abortion centers but pro-life pregnancy centers. She said Biden is targeting pro-life Americans while virtually ignoring almost 100 attacks on pregnancy centers.
Paulette Harlow, 73, also one of the defendants facing trial, told Fox News Digital she was “not surprised” by last week’s verdict.
“Because the trial was very, very biased,” she said. “And to try to label them [defendants] as violent, or any of the pro-life people as violent is very, very false, and it’s just meant to sway people away from what we’re trying to do. And what we’re trying to do is save lives.”
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton nominee who presided over the previous trial, will oversee this one as well. She would not allow the video to be used as evidence. She also prohibited the defendants from arguing their actions were protected by the First Amendment or were committed in defense of a third person, unborn children.
The attorney fo the pro-life advocates is expecting the same result in the second tial, given the bias of the first one.
Stephen Crampton, senior counsel for the nonprofit legal firm Thomas More Society which represents Handy, told Fox New Digital in an interview Friday “it’s hard to envision” a verdict “that would be substantially different from what we’ve already seen.”
“They waited a year and a half to file this action,” Crampton said. “If indeed this was some sort of dire offense and the defendants ought to be incarcerated, why in the world, does the government wait a year and a half to file the charges?”
“The climate activists were out there [in D.C.] gluing their hands to the streets, shutting down traffic and everything, you think there’s any chance the feds are going to prosecute those people or try to put them in prison for 11 years?” he asked.
He also told Fox News that finding a fair jury was practically impossible considering that D.C. is the “most pro-abortion city in America.”
The pro-lifers on trial conducted a rescue at the Washington Surgi-Clinic operated by the notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo who was busted by a LiveAction undercover investigator for admitting that he would not help a child with life-saving efforts if he or she survived a late-term abortion. He emphatically stated that a nearby hospital’s efforts to save the life of a child he was trying to abort was “the stupidest thing they could have done.”
Lauren Handy and Herb Geraghty cited those videos as the reason for the rescue and protest at the abortion business because of the concern babies might be left to die. They chained themselves to the entrace of the abortion center in an attempt to stop abortions.
Last March, some of the rescuers currently on trial were given 115 aborted babies by the driver of a medical waste van outside Santangelo’s late-term abortion facility. The babies were well-developed – second and possibly third trimester. Their remains are still in a vault at the D.C. medical examiner’s office.
In October 2020, about two months after the remains were obtained, the nine pro-lifers blocked the entrance of the abortion facility and protesting abortion.
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Responding the the verdicts, Thomas More Society, the pro-life legal group that defended Handy, called out the judge and Biden administration for their efforts “to chill pro-life speech and activism.”
“A a federal court jury fraught with bias has delivered the Biden Department of Justice the conviction of several life advocates. The group of peaceful pro-life citizens were charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act along with a conspiracy against ‘rights’ that the United States Supreme Court has not found in the Constitution. The defendants were arrested in March 2022, a year and a half after their alleged actions outside of a Washington, DC abortion facility,” the legal group said.
“Handy and her Thomas More Society defense team will appeal this decision, handed down today in United States District Court for the District of Columbia,” it said.
Martin Cannon, TMS senior attorney, told LifeNews: “We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome. Ms. Handy has been condemned for her efforts to protect the lives of innocent preborn human beings. 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.”
Pro-Life advocates Joan Andrews Bell, Jonathan Darnell, Paulette Harlow and Jean Marshall will face their own trial next month.
Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a liberal pro-life group that some of the 9 pro-life people are affiliated with, condemned today’s ruling. The group promised an appeal.
“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,” it said.
Defense attorneys reportedly planned to use photos and video footage of the remains of the aborted children to help make their case. However, Judge Kollar-Kotelly held a pre-trial conference on August 8 wherein she warned attorneys that she would not allow claims that the defendants were acting in defense of other persons. The attorneys were informed that they were not allowed to use certain words like “infanticide, “abortion,” or “innocent lives.”
Additionally, the jury is comprised of 12 individuals, and, reportedly, at least four are strong supporters of legalized abortion.