Latest News 16-05-2024 00:02 4 Views

Pro-life activist sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison in ‘shocking’ outcome: ‘Not the America I know’

Two pro-life activists were sentenced to several years in prison Tuesday on charges of conspiracy against rights and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) stemming from a 2020 'rescue action' at a Washington, D.C.-based abortion clinic. 

Lauren Handy, 30, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for organizing the protest, while co-defendant John Hinshaw, 69, was sentenced to a year and nine months. Handy and Hinslaw, along with seven others convicted on the same charges, blocked access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic on Oct. 22, 2020 while chaining themselves to furniture inside the clinic, according to the indictment.

The hourslong protest was livestreamed on one of the protester's Facebook accounts.

'Our ‘crime’ was ‘attempting to stop the slaughter of late-term babies in the Santangelo abortion mill in Washington, D.C.,'' Hinslaw said in a statement obtained by Fox News Digital. 'Additionally, the importance of these sentences cannot be overstated, since never before has ‘peaceful civil disobedience’ faced such legal violence as our federal law enforcement is now practicing!'

During the jury trial last year, Handy and another co-defendant, Herb Geraghty, referenced pro-life organization Live Action's 'Inhuman: Undercover in America's Late-Term Abortion Industry' video as influencing their decision to participate in the blockade.

One part of the video, released a decade ago, shows Santangelo telling an undercover woman if she went into labor and delivered before the 'termination part of the procedure' was carried out, 'then we would not help it.'

Following the indictment, remains of apparently aborted unborn babies were found in Handy's Washington home, prosecutors said. 

According to the October 2022 indictment, using a fabricated identity, Handy secured an appointment at the clinic, and as a clinic staff member opened the door, pro-life activists emerged from the building’s emergency stairwell and invaded the facility. The incident resulted in an altercation that led to a clinic employee being hospitalized for an ankle injury, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors argued the pro-life activists violated the 1994 FACE Act, a federal law that prohibits physical force, threats of force, or intentionally damaging property to prevent someone from obtaining or providing abortion services. 

Defense lawyers asked for a prison sentence of one year for Handy, who has been jailed since her August 2023 conviction. 

When Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly read the 'shocking' sentence, it was 'a bit surreal,' said Steve Crampton, senior counsel at the Thomas Moore Society in a Fox News Digital interview Wednesday.

'This is not the America I know,' said Crampton, who represented Handy in the case. 'Not only did the judge read out this really harsh sentence, but she had the audacity to lecture Lauren Handy about her lack of compassion for the women who were going in to kill their children.'

Crampton compared the pro-life activists' demonstration to that of the current anti-Israel demonstrations that have been occurring on college campuses for weeks.

'The contrast here with the Pro-Palestine folks shutting down the colleges and even preventing graduation ceremonies, and blocking entire highways and interstates in addition to the ongoing attacks… yet there are virtually no ongoing investigations. I think there's kind of a palpable sense of selective prosecution elements that can't be ignored here.'

The judge told Handy that she was being punished for her actions, not her beliefs.

'The law does not protect violent nor obstructive conduct, nor should it,' Kollar-Kotelly said.

Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of roughly six years for Handy. They described her as an anti-abortion extremist who was a 'criminal mastermind' behind the Washington invasion and similar attacks on other clinics.

'Her strongly held anti-abortion beliefs led her to devise a plan to block access to the Surgi-clinic,' prosecutors wrote. 'The blockade, which was broadcast to Handy’s legion of followers, encouraged others to commit similar crimes, publicized her own offense, and traumatized the victims.'

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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