A leading pro-life legal group has filed an emergency appeal to get a pro-life advocate out of prison who was convicted last week of rescuing babies from abortion.
As LifeNews reported, five pro-life advocates have been found guilty of violating a federal law protecting abortion centers and now face the possibility of 11 years in prison. Another four pro-life advocates are headed to trial today.
Lauren Handy, Will Goodman, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, and Herb Geraghty were each found guilty on all counts the Biden administration brought against them for allegedly violating the FACE law. The jury found all of the defendants guilty of both charges they faced in court and they were taken into custody. They will stay in federal prison until sentencing, which will take place after a second trial starting September 6 for the other pro-life advocates involved in the rescue.
But Thomas More Society attorneys filed an emergency motion with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to reconsider its order detaining pro-life advocate Lauren Handy while she awaits sentencing following her conviction.
But U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who has come under massive fire for her bias during the trial, denied the motion.
Now, Thomas More Society attorneys filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse her decision denying pro-life advocate Lauren Handy’s immediate release from jail. The pro-life attorneys filed their motion and legal argument supporting the appeal.
Citing their conviction for a “crime of violence,” Kollar-Kotelly ordered Handy and her four co-defendants be immediately detained following the verdict. she rendered. However, in the appeal, Thomas More Society attorneys argue that under federal statute and binding precedents from the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, the FACE Act is not categorically a “crime of violence,” and should not lead to pre-sentencing detention.
The only basis for a finding of the use of force was when an overzealous clinic worker rushed at the pro-life advocates and tried to forcibly remove them from the clinic waiting room, resulting in her twisting an ankle. There was no allegation that Ms. Handy or the co-defendants intended to harm anyone.
After the jury returned its verdict, an army of U.S. Marshals led Handy and her co-defendants out of the courtroom.
“That is outrageous. These pro-life advocates committed no violence during their protest at the abortion facility as they kneeled and prayed, distributed pro-life literature and counseled women considering abortions,” said Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Steve Crampton. “The real violence is what happens to an innocent child during an abortion procedure.”
“A federal jury convicted Handy and her four co-defendants of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act along with a conspiracy against ‘rights’ that the U.S. Supreme Court has not found in the Constitution. The judge ordered Handy and her co-defendants be immediately taken into custody while they await sentencing, citing their conviction of a violent crime. However, Handy’s attorneys argue that under federal statute and binding precedents from the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, the FACE Act is not categorically a “crime of violence,” and should not lead to pre-sentencing detention,” TMS attorneys told LifeNews.
“Ms. Handy was there to prevent these horrific live-birth abortions, which does not violate the FACE Act,” said Cannon. “However, she has become a victim of the merciless drive by Biden’s Department of Justice to prosecute those who are trying to protect preborn human beings. To add to that injustice, she was incarcerated when the true violence continues to be committed against innocent children.”
A national non-profit leader, Handy founded Mercy Missions in 2017. The mutual aid organization assists families and mothers in crisis pregnancies and provides relief for the homeless.
“Clearly, Ms. Handy does not pose a danger to the safety of any person or the community and is not a flight risk,” Cannon added. “Therefore, she should be released immediately.”
The trial began August 9 and the five pro-life advocates were charged with conspiracy and violation of the FACE Act, signed into law in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton.
The FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act prohibits individuals from attempting to injure, intimidate, or interfere (by use of force, threat of force, or physical obstruction) with anyone obtaining or performing an abortion.
The pro-lifers on trial conducted a rescue at the Washington Surgi-Clinic operated by the notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo who was busted by a LiveAction undercover investigator for admitting that he would not help a child with life-saving efforts if he or she survived a late-term abortion. He emphatically stated that a nearby hospital’s efforts to save the life of a child he was trying to abort was “the stupidest thing they could have done.”
Lauren Handy and Herb Geraghty cited those videos as the reason for the rescue and protest at the abortion business because of the concern babies might be left to die. They chained themselves to the entrace of the abortion center in an attempt to stop abortions.
Last March, some of the rescuers currently on trial were given 115 aborted babies by the driver of a medical waste van outside Santangelo’s late-term abortion facility. The babies were well-developed – second and possibly third trimester. Their remains are still in a vault at the D.C. medical examiner’s office.
In October 2020, about two months after the remains were obtained, the nine pro-lifers blocked the entrance of the abortion facility and protesting abortion.
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However, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton nominee, would not allow the video to be used as evidence. She also prohibited the defendants from arguing their actions were protected by the First Amendment or were committed in defense of a third person, unborn children.
“In Lauren’s mind, any person she can prevent from going into that clinic is a person whose baby will not be born alive and left to die,” pro-life attorney Martin Cannon said in his closing arguments.
Responding the the verdicts, Thomas More Society, the pro-life legal group that defended Handy, called out the judge and Biden administration for their efforts “to chill pro-life speech and activism.”
“A a federal court jury fraught with bias has delivered the Biden Department of Justice the conviction of several life advocates. The group of peaceful pro-life citizens were charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act along with a conspiracy against ‘rights’ that the United States Supreme Court has not found in the Constitution. The defendants were arrested in March 2022, a year and a half after their alleged actions outside of a Washington, DC abortion facility,” the legal group said.
“Handy and her Thomas More Society defense team will appeal this decision, handed down today in United States District Court for the District of Columbia,” it said.
Martin Cannon, TMS senior attorney, told LifeNews: “We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome. Ms. Handy has been condemned for her efforts to protect the lives of innocent preborn human beings. We are preparing an appeal and will continue to defend those who fight for life against a Biden Department of Justice that seems intent on prosecuting those who decry abortion and present it as it is—the intentional killing of children in utero.”
Pro-Life advocates Joan Andrews Bell, Jonathan Darnell, Paulette Harlow and Jean Marshall will face their own trial next month.
Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a liberal pro-life group that some of the 9 pro-life people are affiliated with, condemned today’s ruling. The group promised an appeal.
“The defense attorneys feel they have strong grounds to appeal and feel optimistic that a higher court will later rule in their favor. This may even go all the way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, our hero rescuers await sentencing,” it said.
Defense attorneys reportedly planned to use photos and video footage of the remains of the aborted children to help make their case. However, Judge Kollar-Kotelly held a pre-trial conference on August 8 wherein she warned attorneys that she would not allow claims that the defendants were acting in defense of other persons. The attorneys were informed that they were not allowed to use certain words like “infanticide, “abortion,” or “innocent lives.”
Additionally, the jury is comprised of 12 individuals, and, reportedly, at least four are strong supporters of legalized abortion.
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