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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — A former rescuer testified against the group of pro-lifers currently on trial in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, citing a changed perspective on the value of attempting to physically stop abortions from taking place. One of the leaders of the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) reacted to the testimony in remarks to LifeSiteNews about the value of the pro-life “rescue” movement.

24-year-old Caroline Davis, a former member of the rescue movement, in which pro-life advocates try to physically stop abortions from occurring, testified on Thursday against the group of activists currently facing federal charges for blocking access to the Washington-Surgi Clinic in downtown Washington, D.C. in October 2020.

“The people who do these blockades feel their religious beliefs and personal beliefs supersede the law,” she said.

Davis explained that she’s changed her views, and while she believes the rescuers are motivated by love, abortion should be ended through using the law, not breaking it.

The former rescuer was at the October 2020 rescue but didn’t engage in the blockade for which 10 activists have been charged with federal crimes. Earlier this year, however, she was indicted for a separate blockade in Michigan. She has agreed to testify in the Washington, D.C. trial as part of a plea deal to reduce her felony charge to a misdemeanor.

READ: DC FACE trial: Pro-life defense not allowed to say ‘infanticide,’ ‘abortion,’ or ‘innocent lives’

Outside the D.C. district courthouse, PAAU executive director Caroline Taylor Smith told LifeSite’s Jim Hale that she felt Davis’ testimony was “very shocking.”

“Those of us who rescue, those of us who believe in the rescue movement, we explicitly say that we believe abortion is murder,” Smith said. She argued that rescues are “the direct response to acting like abortion is murder.”

“Why would we not rescue somebody who is just the same as us if they’re being led away to be murdered?” she said.

While Smith said she had known Davis would be testifying on behalf of the government, she wasn’t sure “what to expect from her.” The PAAU leader said she believes the government “specifically targeted” Davis because of her potential to be swayed. According to Smith, Davis acknowledged in her testimony that she is “easily manipulated.”

“I think the government’s point was that she was manipulated into rescuing,” she said. “But I think it also spoke to the fact that she possibly was manipulated into testifying against us.”

As LifeSiteNews previously reported, the trial currently underway in Washington, D.C. this week comes after a federal grand jury last year handed down a 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.” 

Another activist was charged separately for her involvement in the same rescue.

READ: ‘The battle belongs to God’: Pro-lifers facing up to 11 years in jail for trying to save babies

The advocates for the preborn have been charged with conspiracy against rights and violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for the effort. The FACE Act (18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(3)) prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”

The clinic in question, run by notorious abortionist Cesare Santangelo, is the same location at which pro-life advocates reportedly discovered the remains of roughly 100 aborted children, including five extremely late-term babies, last year. Numerous physicians have suggested that at least some of the babies may have been killed after being born alive. Santangelo previously said in a 2013 undercover video that he would not save a baby born alive after a botched abortion.

“I’m sad, not because we’re being persecuted by the federal government, but because the federal government is persecuting the unborn,” one of the defendants, William Goodman, told LifeSiteNews.

“The battle belongs to God,” he said. “And so we place it in His hands.”

Jury selection kicked off Wednesday for the first of two separate trials for the pro-lifers. If convicted, they could each face 11 years in prison plus three years of supervised release and up to $350,000 in fines.

LifeSiteNews encourages our readers to pray for all the pro-lifers currently facing trial in D.C., and for Caroline Davis.