Justice Department indicts 9 people for attempting to block access to abortion clinic           

Pro-life activists may face up to 11 years in prison, as much as $350K in fines if found guilty

Abortion, Pro-Life
Pro-life activists protest outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic on January 20, 2022, in Washington, D.C. |

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it plans to indict nine people for trying to block access to an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C.

In a statement released yesterday, the department said it was issuing a two-count indictment against nine people, charging them with conspiracy against rights and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

If they are found guilty, according to the DOJ, they will each face 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine not to exceed $350,000.

Those indicted include: Lauren Handy, 28, of Alexandria, Virginia; Joan Bell, 74, of Montague, New Jersey; Jonathan Darnel, 40, of Arlington, Virginia; William Goodman, 52, of Bronx, New York; Paulette Harlow, 73, of Kingston, Massachusetts; John Hinshaw, 67, of Levittown, New York; Heather Idoni, 61, of Linden, Michigan; Jean Marshall, 72, of Kingston, Massachusetts; and Jay Smith, 32, of Freeport, New York.

At issue was an incident from October 2020 in which the nine indicted individuals allegedly organized an effort to stop people from accessing an abortion clinic.

“According to the indictment, as part of the conspiracy, Smith, Harlow, Marshall, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Bell traveled to Washington, D.C. from various Northeast and Midwestern states to participate in a clinic blockade that was directed by Handy and was broadcast on Facebook by Darnel,” according to the DOJ.

“Handy, Smith, Harlow, Marshall, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Bell forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes. Once the blockade was established, Darnel live-streamed footage of his co-defendants’ activities.”

Lauren Handy
Lauren Handy, a pro-life activist who has been arrested multiple times for protesting at abortion clinics, speaks with EWTN in a 2017 interview. |

Last November, Handy was arrested alongside other pro-life activists outside the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital in California under the charge of trespassing.

Days later, Handy, Bell and Darnell, along with other like-minded activists, were arrested while handing out roses to women seeking abortions at a clinic in Alexandria, Virginia.

Terrisa Bukovinac of the group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, who was among those arrested at both the San Francisco hospital and the Alexandria facility, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that she and her fellow activists “will not be silenced.”

“We are at a precipice now. We are so close to a victory, and it’s going to require an immense amount of bravery from those within our movement,” said Bukovinac.

“I think that it’s important that the pro-life movement move past our fear of sanctions. … The abortion industrial complex is a totalitarian regime, and we must use every tool in non-violent struggle in order to resist this regime.”  

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