In the picturesque neighborhood of Foggy Bottom in northwest Washington, D.C., a feeling of history and purpose follows you. The State Department and the Federal Reserve buildings line the streets. George Washington University occupies over 40 acres in the center of the community. But on F street, on the same block as GW dormitories, sits the Washington Surgi-Clinic, an abortion facility run by Cesare Santangelo, who performs gruesome late-term abortions on nearly full-term children.
At this facility an investigator from my organization, Live Action, recorded Santangelo describing — in his own words — his willingness to withhold medical care from infants born alive after a botched abortion, a violation of federal law. This investigation has inspired thousands to take action to defend innocent human life and protect children from abortion, including five pro-life activists who have been convicted of conspiracy to interfere with civil rights and violations of the FACE Act in connection with a rescue action at the Surgi-Clinic abortion facility in October 2020.
Facing over 10 years in federal prison, Lauren Handy, Will Goodman, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, and Herb Geraghty are currently detained in prison without bail as they await sentencing. This trial was a sham and made a mockery of our justice system. These activists are heroes who used nonviolent direct action to strive for justice, and the Biden Department of Justice has acted capriciously and illegitimately. For justice to prevail, this decision must be appealed and overturned, Congress must conduct vigorous oversight of the DOJ, and ultimately, the FACE Act must be repealed….
The FACE Act, or Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, was designed to levy unusually draconian punishments against pro-life activists in particular. Imagine making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolent direct actions — such as sit-ins — a federal crime, and declaring his work in concert with other civil rights activists a conspiracy punishable by a decade or more in prison. That absurd notion should upset our consciences.
…. In cases like the Surgi-Clinic one, defendants are charged with violating the FACE Act and conspiracy to violate the FACE Act, which carries a massive 10-year potential prison sentence on its own. These activists — who are dedicated to protecting human life — are now facing 11 years in federal prison if they receive the maximum sentence.
….In 2012, a Live Action undercover investigation showed Dr. Santangelo admitting that any children accidentally born alive during abortions at his facility would not receive medical assistance to help them survive—neglect that is illegal under the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.
The investigation further confirmed that Dr. Santangelo performs abortions by cutting the umbilical cord and waiting for the child to die, drastically increasing the chance that a child may be born alive and then killed, which is also illegal under the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. Some of these activists — Lauren Handy, in particular — credited the Live Action video with educating and galvanizing them into action. This video was a key reason the defendants chose the D.C. facility as the location for their peaceful demonstration.
Lauren Handy’s legal team attempted to submit this video into evidence, emphasizing that it was the primary motivation for choosing Santangelo’s facility for the protest. But the judge refused. Both U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly and DOJ prosecutors claimed the video was “heavily edited,” calling it “gossip from propagandists….”
From Live Action’s Lila Rose commentary in Newsweek.