The trial for three of a group of ten total pro-life protestors accused by the Biden administration of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act began Wednesday.
Joe Bukuras of the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported that the three defendants, Jonathan Darnel of Virginia, Jean Marshall of Massachusetts, and Joan Bell of New Jersey, took part in “a sit-in protest at a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic in October 2020.”
“If convicted the defendants could face up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $350,000 maximum fine,” Bukuras wrote.
The indictment of the ten total defendants alleges that they “conspired with one another and with others known and unknown to obstruct access” to the Washington Surgi-Clinic, whose only licensed doctor was the notorious serial late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo.
The indictment also claims that the alleged “conspiracy” aimed “to create a blockade to stop the clinic from providing and patients from obtaining reproductive health services.”
On August 29, five of the ten were convicted of their charges and now await sentencing. They face up to 11 years in federal prison.
As also reported by Bukuras, one of the other protesters, a woman in her mid-70s, will “stand trial alone” next month.
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The other protestor, a man in his early 30s, pled “guilty to a felony FACE Act charge in May,” and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
CatholicVote reported last week about the conviction of half of the group of ten:
After a drama-filled trial, five pro-life advocates were found guilty of violating an almost three-decade-old federal law that has been used to prevent pro-lifers from exercising their right to free speech.
The five defendants—Lauren Handy, William Goodman, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, and Herb Geraghty— were each found guilty “for conspiracy against the right to reproductive health services” and for violating the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
Handy is the Director of Activism and Mutual Aid for Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a left-wing pro-life group that played a key role in exposing Santangelo, who has been nicknamed the “Butcher of D.C.”
As CatholicVote previously reported, Santangelo’s “practice was found to have killed five viable unborn children,” and he “has been accused of selling the remains of aborted babies to an energy company.”
Live Action President Lila Rose called the trial a “sham” with “a biased pro-abortion judge who has made a mockery of our justice system.” She said the “decision will be appealed” and demanded “it be overturned.
Terrisa Bukovinac, the founder of PAAU, took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to denounce the convictions.
“Today a DC jury has decided that in America it is illegal to peacefully and nonviolently protest infanticide and I stand in solidarity with nonviolent political prisoners across social movements everywhere,” Bukovinac wrote in an August 29 post.
“These rescuers were protecting babies born alive and killed by notorious abortionist Cesare Santangelo … But Biden’s feds didn’t come for the violent criminal,” she added. “No, they came for nonviolent peaceful activists because our commitment to both nonviolence and civil disobedience is what makes us grow.”
Last month, CatholicVote reported on a July incident in which Bukovinac and fellow pro-life activist Mike Gribbin were accosted by a pro-abortion couple while they were sidewalk-counseling outside a Planned Parenthood.
“Two proaborts decided to assault me and another pro-life defender outside Planned Parenthood in Washington DC this morning simply for standing on the sidewalk offering resources to families in crisis,” Bukovinac wrote on X at the time. “The police refused to press charges.”
LifeNews Note: Joshua Mercer writes for CatholicVote, where this column originally appeared.
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