On August 9, 2023, five pro-lifers filed into the federal courtroom of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. They are five of ten pro-lifers who, on October 22, 2020, conducted a pro-life rescue at the Washington Surgi-Center where unborn children are killed through the ninth month of gestation by abortionist Cesare Santangelo.

This is the same abortion center where, on March 25, 2022, the driver of a medical waste truck arrived at the center and handed boxes containing one hundred and fifteen aborted babies to Lauren Handy and Terrisa Bukovinac when the two pro-lifers, who were present at the “clinic,” asked for them. One hundred and ten of those victims, aborted in the first trimester, have already been buried….

Handy, the lead defendant in America v. Handy, is joined by Will Goodman, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, and Herb Geraghty. Their very dedicated and able attorneys are Robert Dunn, John Kiyonaga, Alfred Guillaune, Blerina Jasari, Martin Cannon, Steve Crampton, and Howard Walsh. The latter three are associated with the Thomas More Society, the pro-life legal defense group headquartered in Chicago.

Four other pro-lifers, Jonathan Darnell, Paulette Harlow, Jean Marshall, and well-known pro-life activist Joan Andrews Bell, will be tried before the same judge beginning September 6th. One pro-lifer, whose situation I will discuss later, “copped a plea” with the Department of Justice in order to avoid prosecution.

The pro-lifers have been charged with the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), with a maximum one-year jail term and an additional federal charge of conspiracy to interfere with civil rights that carries a maximum ten year jail term and a maximum $350,000 fine. Thus, altogether, the pro-lifers, should they be convicted, are facing a possible eleven years in federal prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines….

Twenty-nine years later, so many aspects of the current FACE trial are historically unprecedented. Charges were brought after a grand jury investigation. This was followed by a seven-state FBI sting operation in which agents literally burst into the homes of two defendants with battering rams and guns drawn, dragging pro-lifers out in the dead of night. These are the first pro-lifers to be charged with the federal law of conspiracy to interfere with civil rights—causing them to face the possible additional ten-year jail term.
The FBI conducted a seven-state sting operation in which agents literally burst into the homes of two defendants with battering rams and guns drawn, dragging pro-lifers out in the dead of night.

It’s the first case in which pro-lifers were pressured by the DOJ with spending time in jail should they be convicted, prompting the defendant mentioned earlier, the unmarried father of two young children, to plead “guilty” to all charges and thus “cut a deal” with the feds. However, this “deal” wasn’t much of a break, as he was still stuck with a ten-month jail term in federal prison! One must wonder, if that’s what you get in a plea agreement, what can the other pro-lifers who opted to stand trial expect should they be convicted!

Finally, also unprecedented in the history of pro-life activism is the testimony of Caroline Davis—who, once full of zeal to end abortion, even participating in rescues, including a Red Rose Rescue with this author, will be testifying for the prosecution against the pro-lifers! Davis was arrested in two other rescues and charged with FACE, and she was present at the rescue at Santangelo’s abortion center.

However, she was threatened with the same charges as the other defendants for merely being there in support of the rescue. To avoid prosecution, she “cut a deal” with the feds. As part of that deal, she had to agree to testify against the pro-lifers. In an FBI interview, she completely disavowed pro-life rescues, saying that she now sees the “error of her ways….”

By Monica Miller in Crisis Magazine