(breitbart) – Three more pro-life activists were found guilty on Friday and immediately incarcerated for their role in an abortion clinic blockade that took place in Washington, DC, in October of 2020.
Pro-life activists Joan Andrews Bell, 74; Jonathan Darnel, 40; and Jean Marshall, 72, were found guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and conspiracy against rights for blocking access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic, a clinic infamous for late-term abortions. The guilty verdict comes after five other pro-life activists involved in the same blockade were found guilty on all charges in late August.
“This overreaching of power and authority by Biden’s DOJ is egregious and must be stopped. Nonviolent pro-life actions should not be a federal crime, and peaceful people with a desire to save lives should not be jailed for over a decade. Some of these Rescuers could be facing death by incarceration. We must repeal the FACE Act now!” said Caroline Taylor Smith, executive director of PAAU (Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising), a leftwing pro-life group.
During the blockade some activists “simply kneeled and prayed…some passed out pro-life literature and counseled abortion-minded women, and others roped and chained themselves together inside the facility,” attorneys for Lauren Handy, PAAU’s director of activism and one of the five activists found guilty in August, previously said of the incident. The FACE Act 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 three activists, along with Handy, Heather Idoni, William Goodman, Herb Geraghty, and John Hinshaw could face a potential “maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Another activist, 32-year-old Jay Smith, previously accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to ten months in prison, and activist Paulette Harlow, 73, is awaiting trial on similar charges, according to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ indicted the activists for the 2020 blockade just five days after Handy and PAAU’s founder and former executive director Terrisa Bukovinac allegedly discovered the remains of approximately 115 aborted babies in a waste box from the Washington Surgi-Clinic on March 25, 2022, five of whom they say may have been partially aborted or killed after birth in violation of federal law.
The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia told Breitbart News this month that it is investigating the discovery of the babies but not the clinic’s abortionist, Dr. Cesare Santangelo.
Attorneys representing Handy with the Thomas Moore Society previously said that Santangelo’s Washington Surgi-Center “has long been the subject of controversy and suspicion, with reason to believe that the late-term abortionist was leaving born-alive infants without care. This is integral to understanding Lauren’s motive that day in October 2020.”
“In 2013, Lauren viewed an undercover video published by Live Action, exposing Santangelo. That video left a lasting impact on her and ignited her passion for pro-life advocacy,” according to her attorneys. “She quit college, moved across the country, and dedicated her life’s work to advocating against abortion. Lauren could never forget the grim reality she had seen and heard on that undercover video, and the horrible live-birth abortions—i.e., the refusal of care after the child survives an abortion—she reasonably believes occur inside Santangelo’s abortion facility.”
Her attorneys are referring to Live Action’s undercover video of Santangelo, in which he was allegedly recorded saying he would not assist a baby that is born alive in a botched abortion.
“We would do things – we would – we would not help it,” he told an undercover investigator in 2013:
Let’s say. We wouldn’t – we wouldn’t uh, intubate, let’s say. Ok? Yeah, we wouldn’t do any extra – you know? … It would be, you know, uh – a person that would be – a terminal person in the hospital, let’s say – that had cancer. You know? You wouldn’t do any extra procedures to help that person survive.
WATCH: Undercover in Late-Term Abortion Industry
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who presided over both trials, did not allow the Live Action video or photo evidence of the 115 aborted babies to be used as evidence. She also prohibited defendants from arguing their actions were protected by the First Amendment or were committed in defense of a third person, unborn children.
On Monday, the three pro-life activists had “expressed faith and firmness of resolve while awaiting their verdict,” according to Life Site News.
“I just want to say thank you for being here,” Bell said. “Thank you for all of you who are praying for the little babies and for our case.”
Marshall asked pro-life activists to “unite with them,” even if they are unsupportive of the rescue movement. Darnel urged supporters to realize the importance of the rescue movement and added that going to jail is not “the end of your life or the end of your effectiveness.”
“It’s just jail, a normative part of following God in a nation that hates Him,” he said.
Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the DOJ has notably charged more pro-life activists under the FACE Act than pro-abortion activists, despite the fact that FBI director Christopher Wray admitted last November that approximately 70 percent of abortion-related threats of violence in the United States since the Dobbs decision have been against pro-life groups.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also admitted in December in remarks at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s 65th Anniversary that the end of Roe v.Wade dialed up “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work, including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”