WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Defense attorneys representing several of the pro-life activists who were found guilty Tuesday of conspiracy and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act have vowed to appeal the decision, telling LifeSiteNews “the fight is not over.”
As LifeSiteNews has extensively reported, five anti-abortion activists – Lauren Handy, John Hinshaw, William Goodman, Heather Idoni, and Herb Geraghty – have stood trial over the past week for blocking access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in downtown Washington, D.C., in a “traditional rescue” in October 2020. Pro-life “rescues” involve activists physically intervening to try to stop women from going through with abortions.
On Tuesday, a Washington, D.C. jury found the five pro-life activists guilty of conspiracy against rights and violating the FACE Act, LifeSiteNews reported at the time.
All five were immediately incarcerated following the verdict because their actions to physically block the abortuary were considered a “crime of violence.” The activists could face more than a decade in prison for their efforts to prevent women from killing their preborn babies.
Speaking to LifeSiteNews outside the district courthouse shortly after the verdict, attorney Steve Crampton with the conservative Thomas More Society law firm – which represented Handy – said “the verdict itself didn’t really surprise us” but the immediate incarceration of the defendants was a “shock” and a “travesty.”
Crampton said the determination that the defendants had committed a violent crime was “preposterous” since the rescuers had all agreed on “nonviolence.”
“The real violence, as we all know, is what happens inside that clinic to the babies every single day,” he said. “So to accuse Lauren and the other gentle activists here of violence is really ludicrous.”
Crampton said the jury was forced to make its decision based on an evidentiary record that was “very narrow and constrained,” and said his firm plans “to vigorously prosecute an appeal on numerous issues.”
“In our view, Lauren’s real offense was not going inside that abortion clinic,” Crampton suggested. “It was her refusal to be silent in the face of ongoing and pervasive evil. And if they think that incarcerating her is going to silence her, I think they’ve got another thing coming.”
“Lauren is a fighter for the most innocent and helpless among us. And Thomas More Society intends to vigorously fight for her as well,” he said. “We think the last word is far from spoken in this case.”
Attorney Robert Dunn, who represented Idoni, agreed with Crampton that the “fight is not over yet.”
“We have motions for judgment of acquittal that the judge has not made a final determination on,” Dunn told LifeSiteNews, adding that he believes the determination of a “crime of violence” in order to lock up the defendants ahead of their as-yet undetermined sentencing “is an outrageous action of the Biden Justice Department.”
Speaking to supporters outside the courthouse, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) executive director Caroline Taylor-Smith vowed to continue to push for justice for murdered unborn babies, drawing special attention to the extremely late-term babies known as “The Five” reportedly found deceased and disfigured outside the Washington Surgi-Clinic. Numerous physicians have suggested that at least some of the babies may have been killed after being born alive. Abortionist Cesare Santangelo previously said in a 2013 undercover video that he would not undertake “extra” measures to save a baby who was scheduled for abortion but was born alive.
The charges against the anti-abortion rescuers stem from a federal grand jury’s two-count indictment of nine abortion opponents for allegedly taking part “in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services” for blocking access to the Washington-Surgi Clinic.
Lauren Handy, 29; Jonathan Darnel, 40; Jay Smith, 32; Paulette Harlow, 73; Jean Marshall, 72; John Hinshaw, 67, Heather Idoni, 61; William Goodman, 52; and pro-life heroine Joan Bell, 74, were charged with conspiracy against rights and violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for the effort.
According to a DOJ press release, the pro-life advocates took part in a “conspiracy” to block access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic.
“Handy, Smith, Harlow, Marshall, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Bell forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes,” the press release said. “Once the blockade was established, Darnel live-streamed footage of his co-defendants’ activities.”
Prosecutors said the defendants violated the FACE Act when they made use of “physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient, because they were providing or obtaining reproductive health services.”
The FACE Act (18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(3)) prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
Starting September 6, the remaining five activists will stand trial for the same October, 2020 rescue in Washington, D.C. LifeSiteNews will continue reporting on these important cases.
As with their colleagues, if convicted, they could each face 11 years in prison plus three years of supervised release and up to $350,000 in fines.