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 Jim Hale/LifeSiteNews

(LifeSiteNews) — Oh Mama – words cannot express fully what the last 12 days have been like since you were taken into custody for actions that were to help save lives. Our hearts are aching as we are grieving your absence and not knowing what the future of your life will be like. Many may not understand what’s going on, so let me start from the beginning. You can disagree with her actions, but I ask that you please be respectful, as though this is a controversial topic, at the end of the day, my whole family lost a mother to the justice system.

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

Joan Andrews Bell: Mom was 25 years old when seven of the nine men on the Supreme Court legalized abortion. From that moment on, Mom’s fight against abortion has never ceased. Mom always knew that the horrible violence against the preborn that goes on in what she calls “murder mills” had to be confronted at the abortion mills. Mom knows and understands fully that she is fighting a root evil that denies that all life comes from God. God tells us that all life has a purpose, in joy and in suffering. All life has a meaning. Mom’s main mission in life is to save unborn babies from abortion. Her actions included counseling women both inside and outside abortion clinics, and then she would enter the clinics where she peacefully rescued and remained to prevent any innocent life from being destroyed at the hands of the abortionist. Since Mom began her rescue work, she has been arrested more than 200 times and has spent more than six years combined in prison as a result, including a combined two and a half years in solitary confinement. Mom has been known as the matriarch of the pro-life movement and one of the most renowned and respected leaders in the pro-life movement, but as we all know, she has never wanted that title or even the fame from acting on what she believes is right. Mom stands firm in her Catholic faith and knows God has a plan in this world’s suffering.

October 2020: Mom performed a rescue alongside other pro-lifers that landed her in a federal trial in Washington, D.C. The jury had to find her guilty on FACE Act and conspiracy charges, and they did find her guilty on all charges. She was taken into custody immediately awaiting sentencing. The trial began on September 6 with jury selection. On September 11, the opening statements began with the state going first and then the defense, and continued until September 15, when the verdict was announced. As some will know, Mom waived her right to a court-appointed attorney, as she has done since she was first arrested in the 1970s. Mom stated so beautifully, “The main reason is the babies. They are being killed without due process of law, without an attorney being by them and without a day in court. So I do not want to have any of those things. I’ll be in court, but I’ll be silent, and I’ll represent myself. I’ll make a statement to the jury in the beginning, but that’s it. The judge said you can’t bring up anything about the babies in court. I said, ‘Well, my silence will represent their silence.’” We went into court on the first day believing Mom would be able to say her opening statement, but the judge denied her that right because she stated that what was written was against the legal parameters of what could be said in an opening statement. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (one of former President Bill Clinton’s nominees) did say, though, that Mom could read her opening statement only if she would take the stand and testify.

READ: Pro-life rescuers found guilty, immediately taken into custody in second DC FACE Act trial 

Throughout the trial, we heard from many witnesses whom the state had called, and some were crossed-examined by the defense. I will say, after the first day, I was physically and emotionally crippled by what I heard and witnessed – simply brain-altering. The days were long, and the nights spent with Mom were incredibly short. Deep down, we knew what the outcome would be in the coming days, but we still held onto that small amount of hope. We just needed one juror to say “not guilty.” My mind was blown by how much the courtroom was controlled by the state or the judge. Many of the statements that were made were simply false or exaggerated. Much of the trial has been blocked out of my mind because, I’ll have to say, it was quite traumatic seeing my mother sitting in a chair alongside her legal advisor while on trial for a “crime” when she was so peaceful and praying throughout the whole time inside the clinic. The hardest part, though, was seeing the 12 jurors and understanding that the verdict lay in the hands of these strangers, many of whom may have had a personal opinion on or else were sucked into the picture the state was trying to paint against my own mother and the other defendants.

We tried to spend every second with Mom because we knew that by the end of the week, the outcome may not be in our favor – and we were right. Mom and I spent a few hours together the second night praying together and also just talking. I asked Mom over and over again, “Are you scared?” Mom said “no,” because she trusted in God’s love and plan, but she said in tears that the hardest part for her was being away from my father and us children and grandchildren – including one whom she hasn’t met yet.

That night, I told Mom I believe strongly that abortion will become illegal in her lifetime. How could it not, with all she’s done to end the violence against the defenseless? The final day came: it was the jury instructions and verdict. That morning and into the afternoon, we spent time with many individuals who love Mom and were just being present for one another, as we knew that the jury may not deliberate for very long. Three hours later, the verdict was in. As we walked in, we knew it was a guilty verdict before the jury had to say anything because there were many marshals around and the questions that were being asked in preparation to being taken gave us the guilty verdict. It felt like it was hours before the jury came out. Moments before that, my father, Theresa, and myself gave my mother one last hug as we then took our seats. We clenched onto each other as the foreperson read aloud each defendants’ verdict: Jonathan Darnell, guilty on all charges; Jean Marshall, guilty on all charges; Joan Bell, guilty on all charges. Once that verdict came in, my mother stood up and did the most Joan Andrews thing: She removed her top shirt to allow the whole courtroom to see her pro-life t-shirt that had a huge crucifix on the back. We exchanged our “I love you” by a simple hand motion, and she was the first to be removed.

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

“Joan Andrews Bell serves the pro-life cause by her willingness to be treated as the unborn are treated, rejected as they are rejected. For her unbreakable passive resistance to abortion she has been sentenced to many years in jail, most of which time she has been in solitary confinement, and denied the sacraments of the Church. Joan Andrews has touched the hearts of hundreds of correspondents with her witness against the callousness of society, which refuses to protect its most defenseless members. This witness is profoundly spiritual, rooted ultimately in her Catholic Faith.” – You Reject Them, You Reject Me by Joan Andrews Bell

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” – Psalm 139:13-14