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Paulette Harlow

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life hero Paulette Harlow, 75, was found guilty today on charges of “conspiracy against rights” and violation of the FACE Act for her involvement in a traditional pro-life rescue conducted at the infamous late-term abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., the Washington Surgi-Clinic, in October 2020.

Harlow’s case was a bench trial, without a jury. The verdict was handed down by the pro-abortion Judge Colleen Collar-Kotelly, who has argued that the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery after the Civil War, may include a “right” to abortion. 

The guilty verdict included special findings of “force” and “physical obstruction” under the FACE Act.

Because of her poor health, which includes debilitating diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease, and severe back pain requiring the use of a wheelchair, Harlow was transported from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., in a special-needs van equipped with a mattress for her to lie down in when she appeared for trial in October. Just three days before her pre-trial hearing on October 20, she underwent a procedure to alleviate throat strictures from a hiatal hernia.    

Due to her special health condition, Harlow was not subjected to incarceration under the same pre-trial conditions of house arrest with the exception of medical visits to the doctor. 

Her sentencing date is set for March 19, at 10:00am.

Harlow told LifeSiteNews that she was “very thankful” not to be incarcerated and expressed her gratitude to all those who prayed for her. “We had so many people praying for us, and I just thank everybody. You can see the whole Mystical Body at work,” she said.

She also urged pro-lifers not to be discouraged in the face of difficulties, as they are “on God’s side.”

“Don’t be weary,” Harlow said. “We are on God’s side, and He is doing so many things for us, because we know that pro-life is what God wants, it’s what He has mandated for us.”

“And I encourage everybody, once again, don’t be afraid to get involved, don’t be afraid of counting the cost,” she added. 

“God will go with you, and it’s His work. These are His precious little children that are being killed, and we have to stop it,” she said, also stressing the power of Eucharistic adoration. 

WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Pro-life rescuer Paulette Harlow explains what inspires her to help save the unborn 

In October, while serving in-house detention, Harlow said that “the prosecutor really wants me in jail.”

“I can go to the doctor, but I can’t go to church. I can’t go to Mass. I can’t go to the sacraments. I have to have a priest come here for Mass, which is once a week.” 

In an exclusive interview outside the D.C. Federal Courthouse at the end of her trial, Harlow spoke to LifeSiteNews about why she came to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in 2020. “I’ve devoted my life to save unborn children because I know it’s God’s will. I know these are His precious children. They are made in His image and likeness, and He does not want any harm to come to them.”  

READ: Dead babies found in DC apartment may have been victims of infanticide following abortion attempts

“Women need solutions to their crisis pregnancies,” she added. “They don’t need someone coming along and saying, ‘I’ll kill your child for you, do you mind paying for it.’”  

Whether it’s housing, or staying in school, or talking to a parent, Harlow said, “whatever it is that they’re afraid of that brought them to the abortion clinic, that’s what I think we should be trying to help them with.” She explained that this was her goal in sidewalk counseling outside abortion facilities, which she used to do regularly with her husband. 

“Most people in the United States do not understand that abortion is removing a baby’s arms and legs while it is alive, crushing the baby’s skull while it is alive, and suctioning it out.”  

Denouncing the commonly told myth that an unborn baby is “just a blob of tissue,” Harlow insisted, “That is a lie. The baby has a beating heart at 21 days. They do not tell women this.”  

“We can do better than this for mothers in crisis,” she said.   

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Pro-life rescuer Paulette Harlow explains what inspires her to help save the unborn 

Harlow is the ninth pro-lifer involved in the October 2020 rescue at the Washington Surgi-Clinic to be tried on the double charges of violating the FACE Act and “conspiring” against rights. The use of the “conspiracy” charge was an idea proposed by the lead prosecutor, Sanjay Patel, in a law review article published last year.  

The article instructs federal prosecutors on strategies to maximize penalties against pro-lifers in the wake of the government’s decision to leverage the FACE Act to intimidate, charge, and jail peaceful citizens standing up against abortion.  

Patel suggests using laws intended to charge violent hate crimes, such as those perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan, to indict and charge pro-lifers for daring to protect from murder the defenseless unborn baby, whom Patel in the courtroom more than once referred to as a “would-be child.”  

By invoking such laws against pro-life protestors and activists, the government can seek maximum prison sentencing as well as immediate incarceration upon a guilty verdict if it includes a special finding of “use of force,” which then places the underlying FACE violation into the category of a “crime of violence.”  

This was the strategy used by Patel and the DOJ in all three D.C. FACE Act trials conducted this fall. 

READ: DC FACE Act prosecutor is using his own ‘conspiracy’ charge proposal to maximize pro-life sentencing  

Harlow’s verdict follows that of eight other rescuers who were tried earlier this fall. On September 15, 2023, pro-life rescuers Joan Andrews Bell, 74; Jonathan Darnel, 40; and Jean Marshall, 72, were found guilty of violating the FACE Act and “conspiracy against rights” for blocking access to the Washington SurgiClinic in the traditional rescue in October 2020. Pro-life “rescues” involve activists physically intervening to try to stop women from going through with abortions.  

The second trial followed close on the heels of an earlier one in which five other activists who oppose abortion – Lauren Handy, 29; John Hinshaw, 67; William Goodman, 52; Heather Idoni, 61; and “Herb” (Rosemary) Geraghty, 25 – were charged and found guilty in connection to their involvement in the same rescue. 

Fellow rescuer Jay Smith, 32, previously accepted a plea deal, while Harlow had been deemed unfit to stand trial, a decision that was reversed in October. 

READ: Prosecutors celebrated in court as pro-lifers’ children wept after second DC FACE Act trial

As LifeSiteNews previously reported, on August 29, 2023, all five activists in the first trial were found guilty and immediately incarcerated ahead of sentencing because their actions to physically block the abortuary were considered a “crime of violence.” The Thomas More Society has attempted to appeal the decision on behalf of Lauren Handy. 

The charges against the 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. 

The two charges carry the possibility of 11 years in prison. An appeal has been filed, and there is hope that the U.S. Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the FACE Act.   


How to send letters, money to pro-lifers jailed for FACE Act violations  

‘We came to stop the murder,’ jailed pro-life rescuer Jean Marshall testifies in third DC FACE Act trial

Jailed pro-lifer Jonathan Darnel doubles down on support for rescue movement: ‘Selfless sacrifice’ 

Here’s why all pro-lifers must support the rescuers jailed over the FACE Act 

How the DC pro-life convictions could strike down the FACE Act and put an abortionist in jail 

Jailed rescuer Will Goodman: Our Lord has blessed me with a contemplative 40 Days for Life this year 

Jailed pro-lifer Will Goodman: The answer to the abortion holocaust is Jesus’ love on the Cross