Pro-Life Director Lauren Handy Sentenced to Almost Five Years for Blockading Abortion Clinic

WASHINGTON — In a significant legal ruling, Lauren Handy, director of activism for Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison. Handy was charged with organizing a blockade at a Washington D.C. abortion clinic, which violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

The sentence was delivered by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, appointed by former President Bill Clinton. The defense argued for a reduced sentence of 12 months, highlighting Handy’s nonviolent intentions and previous jail time since August 2023.

During the blockade on October 22, 2020, Handy, alongside other activists, employed chains, ropes, and bike locks to disrupt operations at the Washington Surgi-Clinic. The act was aimed at stopping the clinic from performing abortions that day.

Prosecutors labeled Handy the “criminal mastermind” behind the blockade and recommended a six-year sentence. However, defense attorney Martian Cannon likened Handy’s peaceful protest tactics to those of Martin Luther King Jr.

Cannon emphasized the nonviolent nature of the protest, stating that Handy and her co-defendants sought to advocate for the lives of unborn children peacefully. Despite this, the court sided with the Biden Department of Justice, imposing a nearly five-year sentence.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly clarified that the sentencing was not a judgment on Handy’s anti-abortion views but was necessary due to the obstructive and potentially harmful nature of the blockade. This was evidenced by a nurse who sustained an ankle injury and patients who were significantly distressed during the incident.

Further, Handy was prohibited from approaching an abortion facility without specific authorization during a three-year supervised release period following her prison term.

The court’s decision prompted various reactions, with some courtroom attendees supporting Handy, calling her a hero. Meanwhile, PAAU founder Terrisa Bukovinac accused the Biden administration of tyranny and viewpoint discrimination, signaling potential long-term impacts on the pro-life movement.

Caroline Smith, PAAU’s executive director, expressed a strong hope that the perceived oppression would ultimately backfire on the authorities.

Handy herself remained resilient, reflecting on her time already served and maintaining her commitment to her cause, stating, “Life goes on … even in jail. So I might as well continue to love and cry and scream and dance.”

The case has sparked widespread reactions, with figures like Lila Rose of Live Action condemning the sentencing as a “grave injustice” and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America calling for the repeal of the FACE Act, criticizing it as a tool used against political opposition.

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