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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The following letter has been sent by LifeSiteNews to members of Congress in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives regarding the mistreatment and torture of the jailed pro-life defendants in the Washington, D.C., FACE Act trials who face up to 11 years in prison as they await sentencing next week.

Dear Members of Congress,

Nine pro-life Americans are currently serving time either behind bars or under house arrest for a peaceful traditional rescue of the unborn at the late term abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., run by the infamous abortionist Cesare Santangelo.

President Joe Biden’s Justice Department appears to be guilty of six instances of torture toward these pro-life activists, both during pre-trial questioning and post-conviction incarceration.

The acts of torture committed against them, enumerated below, are expressly prohibited either by American law or by international standards such as those set forth by the 2015 Nelson Mandela Rules of the UN, to which the U.S. has been expressly called to conform in practice and legislation as recently as December 2023.

Given that Congress has direct oversight over the District of Columbia, Members of both Houses are asked to intervene on behalf of these nine pro-life Americans targeted by the DOJ, who are detained and tortured in our nation’s Capital.

The Biden Administration’s mistreatment and torture of elderly and infirm Christian women, in particular, for their pro-life activism must come to an end. It must be exposed to the American people, and the DOJ must be brought to account.

LifeSiteNews has direct testimony from the persons who have suffered the maltreatment detailed here regarding these following six counts:

  1. Prolonged solitary confinement for 22 days, beyond the 15-day limit set internationally by the Nelson Mandela Rules, for sharing food with a fellow prisoner;
  2. Sleep deprivation by keeping the lights on 24/7 in the prisoner’s cell during the 22-day period of solitary confinement;
  3. Degrading humiliation of a middle-aged woman by parading her fully shackled into federal court as though she were a dangerous and violent criminal;
  4. Deprivation of sufficient heat and clothing in severe winter cold, causing a 74-year-old woman with asthma and lung conditions from prior contraction of tuberculosis to contract pneumonia; further deprivation of proper medical care for three weeks, with risk to life, given age and pre-conditions;
  5. Deprivation of urgent, medically prescribed hip surgery for a 74-year woman, resulting in excruciating hip pain, numbness of the right leg, inability to bend the right knee, and limping; a previously scheduled operation had to be canceled and medical treatment has been denied for nine months despite the doctor’s letter to the federal judge; the prisoner is afraid to take anti-inflammatory pain medication, because of reflux and inability to contact prison personnel in the event of an emergency in her cell, where she was being detained for 20 hours/day;
  6. Intimidation, manipulation, and harassment of defendants in pre-trial interrogations by the FBI and the division for Domestic Terrorism.

Heather Idoni, 59, was placed in prolonged solitary confinement for 22 days and deprived of sleep with the lights of her cell kept on continually. The mother of 5 and adopted mother of 10 was forced to appear in full shackles in federal court in March 2024 for a pre-trial hearing on FACE charges in Michigan, in a manner usually reserved for dangerous or violent criminals.

The DOJ is threatening Idoni with more than 40 years in prison and over $1 million in fines on charges of violating FACE in two peaceful traditional rescues of the unborn in Tennessee and Michigan, in addition to the charges brought in Washington, D.C. While awaiting sentencing in Washington, Idoni suffered a stroke just last week and had to be rushed to the hospital. It is as yet unknown whether her mistreatment in prison contributed to her hospitalization.

Jean Marshall, 74, was deprived of sufficient clothing and heat during extreme freezing winter cold, resulting in the contracting of pneumonia, which went untreated for three weeks. She has been denied an urgently needed hip surgery, contrary to her physician’s instructions, resulting in excruciating pain and reduced mobility of her right leg. Marshall was admitted to the ER just prior to her trial last fall and has now been effectively rendered lame as she continues to be denied proper medical care.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and co-chair of the House Pro-life Caucus, Marshall, who is a registered nurse, said that just a month before her trial last fall, she was admitted to the hospital “for excruciating pain in my hip and an inability to walk.” Despite a scheduled surgery and medical information from the doctor, the pro-abortion Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly refused last fall any accommodations for Marshall to undergo the needed surgery.

Since then, her condition has only worsened, with her right leg feeling numb and her right knee unable to bend, forcing her to drag her right leg when she walks, which she avoids due to the extreme pain.

WATCH: Biden DOJ accused of brutal treatment of jailed pro-lifer — prolonged solitary, shackles

Additionally, the DOJ has directly infringed on the religious liberty of one of the Christian pro-lifers, who has been placed on house arrest, insisting that she be prohibited from attending church at all, despite the defendant’s express request to be allowed to attend Mass in addition to doctor’s visits. Paulette Harlow, 75, a devout Catholic, has been forbidden to attend Mass at a Catholic Church while under house arrest, despite her direct request to the judge while in court.

LifeSiteNews has also been told by one of the pro-lifers, who wished to remain anonymous, that during pre-trial interrogations, pro-lifers were harassed and manipulated when questioned by the FBI, without being told their full rights until afterward.

In a show of intimidation, defendants were interrogated by both the FBI and government agents from the division for Domestic Terrorism, for the purpose of gathering information, although their offense consisted in nothing more than peaceful civil disobedience to the infamous pro-abortion FACE Act, which, after the Dobbs decision, now lacks the legal foundation previously cited in Roe v. Wade.

This interrogation of defendants led the government to learn of communications between the pro-lifers concerning the rescue of the unborn that took place at the late-term D.C. abortion facility, the Washington-Surgi Clinic, on October 22, 2020. The DOJ and FBI used this information as grounds for the charge of “conspiracy against rights,” which carries up to 10 years in prison, thereby maximizing penalties against the pro-life defendants in a novel legal move untested in court until the D.C. FACE Act trials last fall.

The above instances of prolonged solitary confinement, the humiliation of a prisoner through misuse of shackles, withholding of proper clothing, heating, medication, and medical treatment from an infirm elderly woman, the curtailing of the free exercise of religion, and the intimidation and harassment of defendants in pre-trial interrogations can all qualify as acts of torture and/or inhumane treatment of prisoners under American law and international standards.

Torture and mistreatment of prisoners is expressly prohibited under American domestic law, under binding treaties adopted by the U.S., and under non-binding international standards to which the U.S. has repeatedly been called by the UN to fully conform.

The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Additionally, the U.S. government is bound by several international treaties to which it is a party, which prohibit torture. The 1949 Geneva Conventions was signed by the U.S. in 1949 and ratified 1955; the American Convention on Human Rights was signed in 1977; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was signed in 1977and ratified 1992; and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was signed in 1988 and ratified in 1994.

In December 2015, the U.N. General Assembly adopted rules for the humane treatment of prisoners, which now serve as an increasingly accepted international standard, titled United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). These Rules, which the U.N. has pressed the U.S. to adopt, contain stipulations that expressly define and prohibit various acts of torture, including prolonged solitary confinement, placement in a constantly lit cell, and withholding of proper medical care.

Prolonged solitary confinement “in excess of 15 consecutive days” and “placement of a prisoner in a dark or constantly lit cell” are specifically prohibited as punitive action amounting to “torture” and “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

As recent as December 2023, the Human Rights Committee of the U.N. stated in its Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United States of America that it was concerned with “extensive use of solitary confinement in the State party, including prolonged and even indefinite solitary confinement.” The committee called on the U.S. to conform its practice and legislation to the Nelson Mandella Rules.

Further, under American law, the withholding of urgent medical treatment, needed medication, as well as proper housing and clothing, from an infirm 74-year-old woman, resulting in the contracting of a potentially life-threatening lung condition and injury to her right leg rendering her partially lame, would all constitute elder abuse as officially defined by the DOJ: “An intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult.”

READ: Biden DOJ’s treatment of jailed pro-lifers meets international definitions of torture

Further details on the serious injury these pro-lifers have incurred and the laws and rights that have been violated are included in the articles linked below.

The nine pro-lifers convicted in the D.C. FACE Act trials now face up to 11 years in prison, a penalty never before threatened for peaceful civil disobedience in the entire history of the American Civil Rights movement. They await sentencing by pro-abortion Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly next week, on May 14,, 15, and 17.

As should be clear from the interrogation, prosecution, incarceration, torture, and inhumane treatment to which these heroic, peaceful pro-lifers have been subjected and under which they presently suffer, the Biden DOJ is intent on making an example of the “D.C. Nine” pro-lifers charged with violating the FACE Act and “conspiring against rights”.

Members of Congress are called upon to immediately and publicly demand a redressing of these grave injustices and the release of these prisoners. Congress must repeal the egregious FACE Act, which has put them behind bars, and call the Biden DOJ to account for its unremitting persecution of pro-life Americans.

Thank you for your attention to these matters.


Louis Knuffke
LifeSiteNews, Journalist

EXCLUSIVE: Jailed pro-lifer says she was kept in solitary confinement for 22 days with lights on 24/7

EXCLUSIVE: Jailed pro-lifer paraded into courtroom fully shackled ahead of Michigan FACE Act trial

EXCLUSIVE: Elderly jailed pro-lifer denied urgent medical treatment for ‘excruciating’ hip pain

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