'Tragic injustice': Clinton-appointed judge sentences pro-life rescuer to nearly 5 years in jail over peaceful protest

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A Clinton-appointed judge has sentenced pro-life activist Lauren Handy to four years and nine months in prison plus three years' supervision for peacefully speaking out in support of the lives lost and threatened at an infamous late-term abortion clinic in the nation's capital.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's heavy-handed sentence in Handy's case, which was just one year shy of what Biden's admittedly pro-abortion Department of Justice advocated for, has been blasted by Republicans and other pro-life activists.

'Meanwhile, abortionists who dismember and kill children walk free. A grave injustice!'

The Thomas More Society, which defended Handy in the case, has indicated it will proceed with an appeal on behalf of Handy, not only to overturn her conviction but to challenge the constitutionality of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, under which she was convicted in August.

Other pro-life rescuers who took part in the peaceful 2020 protest appear to also be headed to prison, including John Hinshaw, who was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison.


Handy, 30, is the director of activism and mutual aid for Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising.

According to its website, PAAU is "committed to the progressive feminist values of equality, non-violence, and nondiscrimination through an anti-capitalist lens. ... We're committed to unparalleled bravery and to always challenging the oppressive status quo. We're committed to ending elective abortion to matter how long it takes."

Blaze News previously reported that Handy and four other PAAU activists — John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, William Goodman, and Herb Geraghty — were convicted of FACE Act violations last year for supposedly blocking access on Oct. 22, 2020, to the Washington Surgi-Clinic, operated by the late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo.

The FACE Act prohibits anyone from obstructing the entrance to an abortion clinic or intimidating or interfering with a woman attempting to have her unborn baby exterminated.

The Biden DOJ claimed that Handy partook in a "clinic blockade that was directed by Handy and was broadcast on Facebook. The defendants conspired to and did forcefully enter the clinic and block access to the clinic using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes. Once the blockade was established, footage of the activities was live-streamed."

Legal analysts at the Heritage Foundation noted that "Congress specified that the FACE Act doesn't 'prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibitions by the First Amendment to the Constitution,' including the 'free speech or free exercise clauses,' occurring 'outside a facility.'"

Handy's defense also characterized the incident as a "rescue and protest," noting that she was under the distinct impression, in part due to an undercover video published by Live Action, that Santangelo was not just executing live-birth abortions but leaving born-alive infants to die.

Kollar-Kotelly ultimately barred the defendants from claiming their protest was protected by the First Amendment as well as from claiming they had protested in defense of a third person, stating "a defendant may not don a vigilante's hood." The Clinton judge, who made sure to chastise a nun in the public gallery for daring to make the sign of the cross, also prevented the defense from showing the undercover 2012 footage that prompted Handy to want to intervene for fear of prejudicing the jury.

Handy, convicted of a FACE Act violation as well as of conspiracy against rights, sat in prison for nine months until her sentencing.


The Biden DOJ asked Kollar-Kotelly to give Handy 6.5 years, claiming she was among the "masterminds who chose the clinic, advertised the event, recruited participants, and planned the crime," reported the Washington Examiner.

Handy's defense alternatively asked for a one-year sentence, emphasizing the peaceful nature of the event that entailed an "attempt to rescue preborn children from imminent death at the hands of an abortionist who Ms. Handy believed performed illegal late-term procedures."

The Clinton judge reportedly expressed concern that Handy's protest hindered multiple prospective patients from speedily entering the clinic, including a woman experiencing labor pains.

"Your views took precedence over, frankly, their human needs," said Kollar-Kotelly, apparently discounting the human needs ignored deeper within the clinic.

Prosecutors apparently also won the judge over with the claim that the protest was not peaceful, as a clinic nurse allegedly sprained her ankle when one of Handy's co-defendants entered the clinic, reported the New York Post.

Kollar-Kelly claimed Handy was not being punished for her pro-life beliefs but rather her actions, stating, "The law does not protect violent nor obstructive conduct, nor should it."


The outcome incensed Republicans, women's organizations, and pro-life activists, who ostensibly agreed that the FACE Act has outstayed its welcome, especially after having been weaponized against pro-life activists by the Biden DOJ.

Live Action president Lila Rose noted Handy "has just been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for handing roses and resources to women at an abortion facility[.] Meanwhile, abortionists who dismember and kill children walk free. A grave injustice!"

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said in a statement obtained by Blaze News, "Today's outrageous 57-month sentence for a progressive pro-life activist is a stark reminder: Biden's DOJ is fully weaponized against pro-life American citizens, and they are using the FACE Act to do it."

Roy stressed that "House Republicans should defund the DOJ weaponization, repeal the FACE Act, and stand up for the freedoms that we campaign on."

'Ms. Handy deserves thanks, not a gut-wrenching prison sentence.'

"This sentencing of @PAAUNOW's Lauren Hardy is a tragic injustice," said Penny Nance, CEO of the Concerned Women for America. "In policy and practice, the FACE Act is an unjust law that must be repealed. It is an unconstitutional breach of the states' police power, and the Biden Administration has used it to attack political opponents most blatantly."

\u201cThis sentencing of @PAAUNOW's Lauren Hardy is a tragic injustice,\u201d said Penny Nance, CEO of CWA. \u201cIn policy and practice, the FACE Act is an unjust law that must be repealed. It is an unconstitutional breach of the states\u2019 police power, and the Biden Administration has used it\u2026
— (@)

Martin Cannon, senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, said in a statement, "There was only one thing around which Ms. Handy and her co-defendants were unified, and that was nonviolence. They conspired to be peaceful."

"For her efforts to peacefully protect the lives of innocent preborn human beings, Ms. Handy deserves thanks, not a gut-wrenching prison sentence," continued Cannon. "We will vigorously pursue an appeal of Ms. Handy's conviction and attack the root cause of this injustice, that is, the FACE Act — which we believe is unconstitutional and should never again be used to persecute peaceful pro-lifers."

Steve Crampton, senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, added, "The remains of several later-term aborted babies discovered by Ms. Handy and her associates, known as the 'D.C. Five,' have underscored the truth of Ms. Handy's concerns that abortionist Cesare Santangelo has more likely than not been violating the Born Alive Infants Protection Act by reportedly refusing to provide life-saving care to infants born alive as a result of an attempted abortion."

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This Pro-Life Leftist’s Unexpected Strategy For Exposing Abortion On National TV: Run For President

'Any FCC TV station must run the ads of any federal candidate uncensored, and through these ads I will expose the human rights atrocities committed in abortion businesses,' Bukovinac explained.

Pro-life activist claims the purpose of the FBI's visit to her mother was to 'intimidate,' part of a 'coordinated onslaught'

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A pair of FBI agents stopped by the childhood home of a pro-life activist on April 18. They told the woman who answered the door that they were looking to speak to her daughter, who had long since moved from Virginia to Washington, D.C., and made no secret of having done so.

While the bureau's competence has come into question again in recent weeks, Elise Ketch thinks the FBI's efforts to darken her mother's doorstep in Virginia were not only a calculated move rather than misstep, but an effort to intimidate — an effort Ketch underscores has failed.

What's the background?

The Daily Signal reported that Ketch is a member of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a leftist group that manages some rare consistency in its discussion of victimhood, acknowledging that there may be no group today more oppressed than the unborn.

According to its website, PAAU is "committed to the progressive feminist values of equality, non-violence, and nondiscrimination through an anti-capitalist lens. ... We're committed to unparalleled bravery and to always challenging the oppressive status quo. We're committed to ending elective abortion to matter how long it takes."

Ketch, 26, joined PAAU in December 2022 — just months after Catholic pro-life activist Matt Houck had his home besieged by 25 FBI agents and was dragged out at gunpoint in front of his family for having allegedly shoved an individual in front of an abortion clinic.

'Intimidation' with a smile

FBI agents Ashley Roberts and Kathleen Brown appeared at the Woodbridge, Virginia, home belonging to the activist's mother, Tracy Ketch, on April 18, which just happened to be one day after the pro-abortion terror group "Jane's Revenge" attacked a pregnancy center in Bowling Green, Ohio.

"We are both with the FBI," said the agent who identified herself as Roberts. "We just need to speak with her regarding some information that was sent to us."

Tracy Ketch notified the agents that her daughter no longer lived with her.

The agents asked for the activist's phone number and new address, adding, "She's not in any trouble. We just have some information we need to ask her about."

"We would tell you all the information because, like I said, she’s not in any trouble, but just out of respect for her, we’d like to speak with her first," added Roberts. "It's nothing."

\u201cNEW: FBI agents Ashley Roberts and Kathleen Brown showed up at the childhood home of pro-life activist Elise Ketch. The agents asked to speak with Ketch, who is a member of @PAAUNOW. \n\nHere's the Ring security camera footage, first obtained by @Dailysignal:\u201d
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@Mary Margaret Olohan) 1684349524

In a second video taken by the doorbell camera, Tracy Ketch can be heard speaking to her daughter over the phone, indicating that two FBI agents are at the front door.

"FBI agents ... don't tell them anything," responded Elise Ketch.

\u201cElise's mom called her, the footage shows. \n\n"I have two FBI agents at the door." \n\n"FBI agents?? Mom, don't tell them anything."\u201d
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@Mary Margaret Olohan) 1684349524

Ketch suggested to the Daily Signal that she had "no idea what information the FBI was sent" that would prompt them to reach out to her, but suspected that they might be on a fact-finding mission to build a case against her PAAU colleague Lauren Handy, indicted under the FACE Act.

Around the time of her induction into the group in December, some of her fellow PAAU members were facing jail time for having allegedly violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 2019.

The act bars activists from exercising their First Amendment rights near the entrances of abortion clinics and pro-life pregnancy centers alike, but Heritage suggested that the DOJ appears keen to primarily tackle perceived obstacles to women offing their young.

While Ketch reckons she had not run afoul of the act, she told the Daily Signal she had participated in PAAU's "Pink Rose Rescues," where activists handed out pink roses in the waiting rooms of abortion clinics, then left upon being informed that they were trespassing. The roses contained information about emergency pregnancy centers

Alternatively, Ketch said, "It’s also possible that they see me as a threat due to my pro-life activism and intended to investigate me. ... I believe the FBI’s true motive behind their visit to my parents’ home was to intimidate me and my team."

After mulling it over further, Ketch recently told Fox News Digital, "I think my mom's house was specifically targeted because I feel like they should … if they're really an intelligence agency, they should have known by now that I moved and that I'm living here in Washington, D.C. That's not a secret."

"So it only makes sense to me that they went to my mom's house just to intimidate my family and to intimidate me. It really does," said Ketch. "At the end of the day, it feels like a threat, but at the same time, like an empty one."

Ketch believes that pro-lifers, her group in particular, present a challenge to "institutional and corporate power, especially because the abortion industrial complex is a major pillar of power. It's the status quo. The government and our country, frankly, doesn't know how to run without child killing. So here we are. They really don't want us to topple that pillar for them. We're definitely a threat to the government."

Following the Dobbs ruling, which saw Roe v. Wade overturned, big businesses rushed to ensure that their female employees had what they needed in the way of abortion access to remain childless and productive.

The Biden administration and Democrats in Washington have similarly fought to foist abortion on red and blue states alike.

Extra to ostensibly letting hundreds of pro-abortion terror attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers, activists, and churches go unanswered or off easy, the FBI and Justice Department under President Joe Biden have taken an active role in advancing the cause of pro-abortion radicals in the United States.

The DOJ announced the establishment of the Reproductive Rights Task Force in July 2022. This task force's work has included centralizing "information about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act," reported the Washington Examiner.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who helms this task force, made her bias well known in December, claiming that the overturning of Roe v. Wade was "a devastating blow to women throughout the country, taking away the constitutional right to abortion and increasing the urgency of our work, including enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services."

Gupta went so far as to intimate that pro-lifers and the challenges they present to the abortion status quo are "insidious," comparing the pro-life cause to slavery and Jim Crow.

Referencing FBI whistleblower accounts on Thursday, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) noted, "If you're a parent attending a school board meeting; if you're a pro-lifer praying at a clinic, or you're a Catholic simply going to Mass, you are a target of the government, a target of the FBI."

Terrisa Bukovinac, the founder of PAAU, appears to agree.

Bukovinac told the Daily Signal, "The feds are desperate to find a reason to shut us down and they’re not above coming to our parents’ homes to try to find what they’re looking for.

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