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Chris Bell and Joan Andrews BellLifeSiteNews

(LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life advocate Chris Bell, husband of rescuer Joan Andrews Bell who was convicted and jailed earlier this year for her own pro-life advocacy, updated LifeSiteNews this week on his wife’s status, shared the promise of forgiveness with people who have been involved in abortions, and weighed in on the controversy concerning whether or not mothers who seek abortions should be prosecuted under the law.

“Spirits are very strong and very positive and very good,” Bell told LifeSiteNews senior correspondent Jim Hale in a video interview.

Joan Bell, 74, was immediately locked up in September after a jury convicted her of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and conspiracy against rights 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. 

A date for Joan’s sentencing has not yet been set.

Chris Bell told LifeSite that Joan has had “lots of time to pray and also to read” while behind bars, and is even “doing a Bible study with her co-defendants” as well as other inmates.

“This is a real specific time to pray, to end abortion and to do reparation for our own sins, and especially for the sin of abortion,” Chris said.

RELATED: Joan Andrews Bell writes from prison: I want to live like a cloistered nun in her cell

He said that Joan, who has been jailed numerous times for her pro-life advocacy, told him the institution in which she is currently incarcerated is “the best prison she’s ever been in,” and that she is being treated “civilly and humanely.”

Despite the help of attorneys, Bell said he and his wife “have absolutely no hope in any appeals.”

“We have no hope that we will see any justice in this process. But we have every hope and every bit of faith and trust that God will bring good out of this and out of everything,” he said, even if that good doesn’t manifest itself “in our lifetime.”

Forgiveness for abortion

Bell emphasized that the battle he, his wife, and other pro-life advocates are fighting is for the recognition and defense of the innocent human beings who are being killed every day.

“And for doing that, we’re accused of violence because we pray in the office or accused of stopping somebody from getting ‘healthcare,’” he said. “There’s nothing healthy about it. So, Lord, help us.”

Bell, who operates a network of four pro-life Good Counsel Homes that have helped over 8,500 mothers and children in need, extended the promise of forgiveness toward people who have had abortions or participated in them.

“There is hope,” he said. “No one in the pro-life movement accuses you. I’m not pointing a finger.”

“Just admit where you are and seek counseling,” he encouraged. “Know that you can find peace.”

Bell advocates prosecution of abortionists, not mothers

In the context of hope and forgiveness for people whose lives have been touched by abortion, Bell addressed a controversy that has existed for years within the pro-life movement concerning whether mothers who procure abortions ought to be criminally prosecuted.

The subject was brought up afresh by fellow pro-life rescuer Jonathan Darnel, who is currently incarcerated for the same rescue in which Joan Bell participated.

“Personally, I support both the banning of abortion causing drugs and the prosecution of anyone involved in the murder of a preborn child,” Darnel wrote in a November 21 article published by LifeSiteNews, though he said he didn’t believe “either of these solutions will have much effect.”

Chris and Joan have expressed strong disagreement with the notion of prosecuting women who abort their babies.

“There’s no pro-life organization that I have ever known in my 40 years involved in pro-life ministries…that has ever called for, asked for, or wants to see women prosecuted, much less put in jail,” Bell told LifeSite.

He pointed out that today’s culture has had “abortion on demand” for half a century, leading to a culture “propagandized” to believe that abortion is healthcare.

“After 50 years of abortion propaganda, selling abortion is easy,” he said. “How can we say a woman is even culpable in trying to seek an abortion? We wouldn’t do that.”

“What we have to do is offer healing and hope,” Bell said, emphasizing that abortionists are the ones who should go to prison.

“Those are the ones who know what they’re doing,” he said. “The abortionist knows when he’s pulling off arms and legs and a head. What do you think happens in an abortion, even if at eight, nine, ten, 12 weeks, he’s got those little body parts of babies fully formed?”

“They are committing crimes against humanity and they know it,” he said. “And if they don’t know it, then they are in such a dark space that maybe jail will give them the opportunity to reflect on the evil that they have done. And that’s what we want. I don’t want to see them hurt, but I do want to see them converted.”

Pray and do what God tells you to do.’

Toward the end of his remarks to LifeSite, Bell shared his wife’s emphasis on prayer as the ultimate solution to the sin of abortion and the distressing state of the nation and the world.

“When innocent people are taken away for trying to save innocent life, the nation is on the wrong track,” Bell said. 

READ: Bishop lauds imprisoned pro-lifer Joan Bell for ‘inspiring life and dedication’ to protecting the unborn

“One of the last things [Joan] said to me as they were taking her into custody was just tell people to pray and do what God tells them to do. And at the moment, I thought that was a very simple statement,” he said, musing that she could have encouraged people to spend more time praying outside of abortion facilities.

“But no – that really is the statement: Pray and do what God tells you to do,” Bell said. 

“The world has seen great empires, tremendous empires come and go. And the Church, the Catholic Church has withstood tremendous persecution throughout the centuries,” he noted. “Certainly the 20th century was horrendous, and it’s not looking so good in the 21st century.” 

“But the reality is the Church is not going to go away because it’s belief in the truth. And what’s the truth? The truth is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to the world, rose again to forgive our sins,” Bell said. ”And He loves us and He loves you.”