Activists guilty of abortion clinic blockade ordered to remain in jail pending federal sentencing

Pro-life activists Lauren Handy, left, and Terrisa Bukovinac chant slogans against legal abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington Dec. 10, 2021. Handy and four others were convicted Aug. 29, 2023, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia of conspiracy against rights and violation of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act for an abortion clinic blockade in Washington in 2020. The same judge ruled Aug. 31 the five must remain in jail until their sentencing later this year. (OSV News photo/Sarah Silbiger, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) ─ Lauren Handy and four other activists convicted for an abortion clinic blockade in Washington in 2020 must remain in jail in Alexandria, Virginia, until their sentencing takes place in federal court.

Handy's lawyers from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society had filed an emergency motion Aug. 30 asking for her to be released before sentencing, arguing that the violation of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, or FACE, Act did not constitute a "crime of violence."

But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia turned down the motion, for Handy and the others, on Aug. 31.

"Though a point well taken, the Court concludes that the FACE Act creates distinct offenses, some of which are crimes of violence," her decision reads. "Because the jury clearly convicted each defendant on a sub-offense exclusively criminalizing violence against person or property," she denied the reconsideration saying the court has no other alternative under the statute.

The five activists face as many as 11 years in federal prison, fines of up to $350,000 each and three years of supervised release. They were convicted Aug. 29 of the FACE Act violation and conspiracy against rights, both felonies.

In addition to Handy, 28, of Alexandria, they are John Hinshaw, 67, of Levittown, New York; Heather Idoni, 61, of Linden, Michigan; William Goodman, 52, of Bronx, New York; and Herb Geraghty, 25, of Pittsburgh. They will be sentenced later this year. A second group of four defendants will go on trial in early September.

The blockade, which lasted about three hours and was livestreamed on Facebook, occurred at Washington Surgi-Clinic Oct. 22, 2020.

Handy, her defense lawyers and federal prosecutors all agreed during the trial that she believed the clinic was conducting full-term abortions.

In her testimony, Handy spoke of being inspired by a video from Live Action purporting to show the medical director of the clinic saying he wouldn't aid a baby born alive after an abortion.

In his closing argument to the jury on Aug. 25, Thomas More Society senior counsel Martin Cannon said, "In Lauren's mind, any person who she can convince not to go into that clinic is a person whose baby is not going to be born alive and left to die."

Handy is best known for acknowledging to a medical examiner in March 2022 that she had been storing what police described as "five fetuses" found in a basement refrigerator of a Washington row house where she had been staying. Police did not charge Handy with a crime for that. The FBI arrested her for the clinic blockade.

At a press conference the following month with activist Terrisa Bukovinac and Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, Handy claimed the corpses of the five unborn children were in a box of 115 fetal bodies they obtained from the driver of a medical waste truck at Washington Surgi-Clinic and that they appeared to be from late-stage abortions. They claimed to have buried the other 110.

The remaining fetal remains were eventually given to the district's medical examiner's office.

Thomas More Society announced Aug. 31 on X, formerly known as Twitter, that they have filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
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Kurt Jensen reports for OSV News from Washington.


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