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Arrests are made during the rescue at Washington Surgi-Clinic on October 22, 2020DC Area Anti-Abortion Advocacy / Facebook

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – Five Republican members of Congress are seeking answers from the Biden Department of Justice regarding the disproportionate and suspiciously-timed prosecution of nine pro-life activists for blocking the entrance to a D.C. abortion center in October 2020.

Last month, federal law enforcement arrested the activists, who blocked the entrance as part of an effort to offer help to families seeking abortion, counsel them to change their minds, pray with them, and inform them about local resource centers. The Biden DOJ alleges that they “engaged 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” when they “forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains, and ropes.” 

The pro-lifers face up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000. 

The organizer of the rescue, Lauren Handy, was later arrested when the police received a tip leading to the discovery of the bodies of five aborted babies in her home, which quickly became a subject of rampant online speculation. Handy and fellow pro-lifer Terrisa Bukovinac say they obtained a box containing the bodies from an anonymous truck driver who was allegedly loading boxes from the Washington Surgi Clinic abortion facility to transport them to the Curtis Bay Medical Waste incineration facility. The pro-lifers brought the aborted babies back to Handy’s apartment in order to give them a humane burial and funeral.

“Their late gestational ages as well as their apparent sustained injuries potentially show violations of the Partial Birth Abortion Act as well as the Born Alive Infants Protection Act which are federal crimes,” says the group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), for which Handy is activism director. 69 Republican lawmakers have called on the FBI and Justice Department to investigate.

Now, in an April 22 letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Republican Reps. Paul Gosar, Ralph Norman, Mary Miller, Randy Weber, and Jeff Duncan have protested that “[t]hese non-violent advocates for the protection of life against murder are now being treated worse than violent felons…What is normally treated as a nuisance trespass is instead being treated as a decade long felony for these protesters.”

“This indictment and prosecution are abusive, unequal, and punitive,” they argue. “While the charge of trespass or clinic obstruction fits the facts, conspiracy against rights is unique and inappropriate for the conduct.”

The lawmakers note that under President Joe Biden, the Justice Department “has a disturbing history of overcharging people with political beliefs contrary to those in office,” citing the pending prosecutions of nonviolent Americans charged with trespassing for entering the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riot of 2021, contrasted with the relative lack of federal prosecutions for participants of the Black Lives Matter riots of the previous summer.

“The conspiracy against rights charge is especially egregious. It is reserved for two people who conspire to ‘oppress, threaten, or intimidate’ a person in the ‘free exercise’ of their constitutional rights,” but “[a]bortion is not a right in the Constitution,” the Republicans noted. “The Supreme Court in Roe acknowledged as much, which is why that decision has been on life support ever since. Life is the first sacred and unalienable right named in the Declaration of Independence. Charging someone for protecting our first right named in the Declaration for violating a made-up right not in the Constitution is absurd. A right to kill cannot exist.”

“The timing of this arrest indicates a pre-meditated intent to distract from a grotesque incident uncovered by one of the defendants,” they went on. “Five dead babies were found in possession of this particular defendant, with evidence to suggest they had been killed by an abortionist in the Washington Surgi-Clinic in violation of federal law either after birth or during a partial birth abortion procedure.”

The letter closes by asking the Justice Department to answer several questions, including why it waited for more than a year to indict the pro-lifers, whether the timing of the rest was dependent on knowledge of the tip the defendants sent to D.C. police, and how many times the Department has charged conspiracy of rights violations or violations of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act of 1994.

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