‘The battle belongs to God’: Pro-lifers facing up to 11 years in jail for trying to save babies – LifeSite

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Advocates for the unborn expressed hope, confidence, and no regrets for the actions they took to save preborn babies as they spoke with LifeSiteNews outside a Washington, D.C. district courthouse where a trial is underway that could put them in prison for over a decade.

“There is no shame in passionately and vulnerably loving our neighbors as ourselves,” Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) director Lauren Handy, 28, told LifeSite senior correspondent Jim Hale outside the courthouse Wednesday.

“The preborn are our neighbors. And we have a moral and ethical obligation to love them in action and word,” she said.


Pro-life activist Will Goodman told LifeSite that he feels “trustful in the Lord” as he and the nine other defendants face federal charges for taking part in an October 2020 “traditional rescue” at the Washington-Surgi Clinic in downtown Washington, D.C.

The clinic, run by notorious abortionist Cesare Santangelo, is the same location at which pro-life advocates reportedly discovered the remains of roughly 100 aborted children, including five extremely late-term babies, last year. Numerous physicians have suggested that at least some of the babies may have been killed after being born alive. Santangelo previously said in a 2013 undercover video that he would not save a baby born alive.

Abortion is legal in Washington, D.C. at all stages of pregnancy, including throughout the third trimester. The law does not require parents to be notified before their minor daughter can get an abortion.

“I’m sad, not because we’re being persecuted by the federal government, but because the federal government is persecuting the unborn,” Goodman told LifeSite on Wednesday. “And I’m sad because today the violence continues in the District of Columbia and in so many places throughout our country and throughout the world.”

“The battle belongs to God,” he said. “And so we place it in His hands.”

As LifeSiteNews previously reported, a federal grand jury last year handed down a two-count indictment of nine abortion opponents for allegedly taking part “in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services” for blocking access to the Washington-Surgi Clinic.

READ: Trial to start Wednesday for pro-life activists facing 11 years in jail for trying to save babies

Handy; Jonathan Darnel, 40; Jay Smith, 32; Paulette Harlow, 73; Jean Marshall, 72; John Hinshaw, 67, Heather Idoni, 61; Goodman; and pro-life heroine Joan Bell, 74, were charged with conspiracy against rights and violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for the effort. 

Herb Geraghty, a 25-year-old woman who identifies as a man but staunchly opposes abortion, was charged separately for her involvement in the same “rescue.”

According to a DOJ press release, the pro-life advocates took part in a “conspiracy” to block access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic.

“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,” the press release said. “Once the blockade was established, Darnel live-streamed footage of his co-defendants’ activities.”

The defendants allegedly violated the FACE Act when they made use of “physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient, because they were providing or obtaining reproductive health services.”

The FACE Act (18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(3)) prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.” 

Hinshaw told LifeSite on Wednesday that he took part in the rescue effort because he wanted to “prevent a federal crime.” 

“It’s a federal crime to do partial birth abortion. [Santangelo is] doing a lot of late-term abortions. You know some of them are partial birth. Consequently, I was preventing a federal crime and now I’m charged with a federal crime,” Hinshaw said.

“Santangelo is a serial killer,” director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society Monica Miller (who is not one of the defendants in the case) argued in her comments to LifeSite. “He kills unborn children well into the third trimester.”

“Now, we see these photographs of those five victims that were retrieved. There is no way that is not murder,” she said. “Absolute murder, torture of other human beings. He should be on trial. If the world was upside right, there would be justice.”

RELATED: Undercover footage provides new evidence of notorious DC abortion clinic’s gruesome practices

Terissa Bukovinac, founder of PAAU, said the “significance of this moment is palpable.” 

“It is the FACE Act that crushed the rescue movement in the 1990s,” he said. “And it is so important for our movement to show solidarity and bravery in this moment. We can have justice for the unborn, but we must not cower in this moment.”

“We will not stop fighting,” Geraghty told the crowd of pro-life supporters. “We will not stop rescuing, and we will not stop working for justice.”

Jury selection kicked off Wednesday for the first of two separate trials for the pro-lifers. If convicted, they could each face 11 years in prison plus three years of supervised release and up to $350,000 in fines.