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Pro-life Rescuer Paulette HarlowLifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life activist Paulette Harlow was sentenced Friday to 24 months in jail for blocking access to a late-term abortion facility in the nation’s capital.

On August 29, 2023, a D.C. jury found Heather Idoni, Lauren Handy, Will Goodman, John Hinshaw, and 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; Harlow’s conviction came in November.

As LifeSiteNews has extensively reported, the five activists 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 activists 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 that may have either been killed by illegal partial-birth abortion procedures or after live-birth).

After 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, near the high end of the sentencing guidelines, and for the rest of the defendants to serve a minimum of two years. 

Appearing before left-wing U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the 75-year-old Harlow was sentenced to a 24-month prison sentence to be served in a facility offering level three or four medical care due to a range of health issues, including debilitating diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease, and severe back pain requiring the use of a wheelchair. She was returned to house arrest until such a prison can be determined, at which point she is to turn herself in to prison authorities.

A devout Catholic, Harlow was forbidden during the trial from attending Mass while under house arrest despite her direct request to the judge while in court.

In the previous sentencing for the rest of the “D.C. Nine,” Handy was sentenced to four years in prison and the rest of the sentences so far have ranged from one year to 34 months. The cases are the latest in what pro-lifers call 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 Mark Houck.

Harlow is not the only member of the DC Nine to have endured treatment while in custody above and beyond the charges and sentencing themselves. Marshall, 74, was deprived of sufficient clothing and heat during extreme freezing winter cold, causing her to contract pneumonia that went untreated for three weeks, and was denied urgent hip surgery. Idoni previously disclosed to LifeSiteNews investigative journalist Louis Knuffke that she is a victim of gross medical neglect at the D.C. jail, which failed to administer essential medication for her heart while falsifying her medical record.

LifeSiteNews’ extensive coverage of the D.C. Face Act trials can be found here

READ: Pro-life rescuers are very effective in saving lives despite the risk of jail: here’s why

Sign the prayer pledge for the nine pro-life rescuers facing a decade in prison.