Massive Sentences Handed Down to Pro-Life Activists

( – Seven pro-life activists have been hit with harsh prison sentences. The group was arrested in 2020 and convicted in August and September of last year. Since then, they’ve been in jail awaiting sentencing. Now, they’re facing even more time behind bars.

On October 22, 2020, a group of activists protested outside the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, DC, which performs abortions. Some of them entered the clinic and chained themselves together, while others prayed or distributed leaflets outside. After an investigation by a federal grand jury, nine were charged with conspiracy against rights and conspiracy to create a blockade under the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act in March 2022. In August and September 2023, they were convicted in two separate trials. Their sentencing hearings took place last week.

On May 14, Lauren Handy, a 30-year-old left-wing Catholic activist, was sentenced to 57 months minus credit for nine months served. She’ll spend four years in prison. Fifty-four-year-old William Goodman was sentenced to 27 months minus time served, and 69-year-old retiree John Hinshaw got 21 months, again minus time served.

The next day, four more were sentenced. Iraq war veteran Jonathan Darnel, 42, was sentenced to 34 months in prison, while 27-year-old atheist Herb Geraghty and 76-year-old Joan Bell got 27 months each. Seventy-four-year-old Jean Marshall was sentenced to 24 months — despite having a doctor’s note saying she needs a hip replacement. Prosecutors argued that hip replacement is an elective surgery and argued for a heavier sentence. Again, all of them got credit for the nine months they’ve already spent in jail.

The final two activists, 75-year-old Paulette Harlow and 59-year-old Heather Idoni, are due to be sentenced before the end of May. Idoni has also been convicted of FACE Act charges related to a protest in Tennessee, and will be sentenced for that in June. The maximum penalties for anti-abortion protests under the FACE Act are 11 years in prison or a $350,000 fine.

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