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Pro-life defendant Lauren Handy in Washington, D.C., where she and others were tried and founding guilty of violating the FACE Act and 'conspiracy against rights'Jim Hale / LifeSiteNews

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – Three prominent American pro-life groups issued statements condemning the Biden Department of Justice’s prosecution and conviction of five activists who now face more than a decade in prison for blocking access to a late-term abortion facility.

On August 29, 2023 a jury in the nation’s capital found Lauren Handy, Will Goodman, Heather Idoni, John Hinshaw, and Herb Geraghty guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and conspiracy against rights.

As LifeSiteNews has extensively reported, the five anti-abortion 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.

The activists were immediately incarcerated following the verdict and will be sentenced at a later date.

“This conviction is blatant abuse of political power meant to intimidate pro-life voices. It is an embarrassment to our judicial system,” said Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America (CWA). “These five sincere pro-life protestors have been the target of a malicious prosecution by a U.S. Department of Justice [which] promotes a dangerous view of pro-life activists as criminals. That is why recent internal memos classified faithful Catholics as ‘violent extremists.’ This sort of unconstitutional actions against citizens should be decried by all of us, regardless of political ideology. It is immoral and unjust.”

READ: Pro-life rescuer recounts John Paul II’s inspiring ‘We will stand up’ homily before conviction in DC trial

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America issued a statement saying, “We stand with all our allies who are persecuted because of their love for unborn children and their mothers,” and calling the conviction a “shameful day for a nation founded on unalienable rights, first and foremost including life.”

SBA’s full statement read:

This is a shameful day for a nation founded on unalienable rights, first and foremost including life. Pro-life advocates like Lauren Handy have put their freedom on the line – peacefully and bravely – to protect babies and women from the brutality of abortion. They have done a vital public service in exposing the horrors of late-term abortion taking place in D.C., where there are no limits on abortion up to birth, and across the country. They have kept the memory of abortionist Cesare Santangelo’s victims alive, including five fully developed babies that were likely killed in illegal partial-birth abortions or delivered alive and left to die, then placed in a box and headed for the incinerator as ‘medical waste.’

Instead of being recognized for their heroism, the most pro-abortion administration in history has weaponized the full power of the federal government against them – treating them like terrorists and threatening them with as many as 11 years in prison, all while the authorities turn a blind eye to Santangelo’s atrocities. The extreme pro-abortion bias on display throughout this trial – for instance, donors to abortion giant Planned Parenthood permitted to serve on the jury – shows that they were never going to get a fair hearing in Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s court. Wherever one stands on abortion, we should all be able to agree this is wrong and un-American.

Violence against the defenseless and innocent can never be a ‘right’ – something the pioneers of feminism deeply understood. This is why abortion is the worst human rights abuse of our time and saving these irreplaceable lives is the most pressing human rights cause. We stand with all our allies who are persecuted because of their love for unborn children and their mothers. The fight is not over and we hope to see justice prevail.

Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, said, “I pray God will grant these compassionate and courageous pro-lifers tender mercies as they suffer unjust punishment for their life-saving actions that resemble the work of Operation Rescue for so many years.”

“The Operation Rescue movement was the largest civil disobedience movement in United States history with over 75,000 people arrested for peacefully and nonviolently sitting in front of the doors of abortion clinics from the late-eighties to mid-nineties,” Newman explained. “Though we have expanded our tactics to include exposing the Abortion Cartel’s gruesome abortion practices and do not ‘rescue’ any longer, I commend these peacefully pro-life warriors who willingly sacrificed their liberty so that preborn children would live and be spared from the cruel knife of the abortionist.”

Lila Rose, President and Founder of Live Action, reacted by stating, “The injustice seen in the court today is indicative of the injustice committed daily in America’s abortion mills.”

READ: Jury in FACE Act trial not allowed to see shocking video of DC abortionist describing his work

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Rose declared, “These pro-life activists should be seen as HEROES” and noted that in 2013 Live Action went undercover in Santangelo’s Washington Surgi-Clinic and secretly recorded the abortionist “stating his willingness to let a newborn die from neglect and lack of medical care while acknowledging this as a federal crime.”

“This trial has been a sham with a biased pro-abortion judge who has made a mockery of our justice system,” Rose wrote in another post. “This decision will be appealed & we demand it be overturned.”

Jury selection is ongoing for the upcoming FACE trial of Joan Andrews Bell, Jonathan Darnel, and Jean Marshall, who also face lengthy prison sentences if convicted for the same October 2020 rescue. Defendant Jay Smith accepted a plea deal and a fifth defendant, Paulette Harlow, was deemed unfit to stand for this trial.


Judge in DC Face Act trial denies motion for pre-sentencing release of pro-lifer Lauren Handy

‘Fight is not over’: Defense attorneys vow appeal after pro-life rescuers found guilty in DC FACE trial

EXCLUSIVE: Joan Andrews Bell says she will represent herself during second DC FACE Act trial

Pro-life rescuers immediately incarcerated following jury’s guilty verdict in DC FACE Act trial

Jailed pro-lifer Will Goodman: Rescues are a truthful witness of good against evil