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Pro-Life Grandma Thrown in Prison for 27 Months for Protesting Abortion

An elderly pro-life grandma is one of several pro-life advocates who will be thrown in federal prison for peacefully protesting abortion.

Joan Andrews Bell, a gentle giant known by many as a sweet grandmas who fights for little babies, was 24 years old and shocked when the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S.

The Biden administration has thrown yet another pro-life American in prison for protesting abortion. Thanks to Joe Biden’s politicized Justice Department, pro-life advocate Joan Andrews Bell has been sentenced to 27 months in prison under the FACE Act just for engaging in a peaceful protest inside an abortion center.

Those pro-lifers on trial conducted a rescue at the Washington Surgi-Clinic operated by the notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo who was busted by a LiveAction undercover investigator for admitting that he would not help a child with life-saving efforts if he or she survived a late-term abortion. He emphatically stated that a nearby hospital’s efforts to save the life of a child he was trying to abort was “the stupidest thing they could have done.”

The rescuers were given 115 aborted babies by the driver of a medical waste van outside Santangelo’s late-term abortion facility. The babies were well-developed – second and possibly third trimester. Their remains are still in a vault at the D.C. medical examiner’s office.

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In October 2020, about two months after the remains were obtained, the nine pro-lifers blocked the entrance of the abortion facility and protesting abortion. Darnel filmed the protest he participated in alongside Handy and the other convicted activists.

However, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton nominee, would not allow the video to be used as evidence. She also prohibited the defendants from arguing their actions were protected by the First Amendment or were committed in defense of a third person, unborn children.

Here’s more:

According to Terrisa Bukovinac, another pro-life activist who has been posting updates from the courtroom, Bell’s family “cried tears of joy that the sentence wasn’t longer,” while Marshall provided a doctor’s note indicating that she needs a hip replacement due to extreme osteoporosis.

Martin Cannon, an attorney with the Thomas More Society, which represented Handy, told CNA that they will likely be appealing “most if not all” of the sentences. Any appeals in these cases would go to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“Right now, they’re all convicted felons and that’s worth fighting over,” Cannon said.

Cannon said he is optimistic they will be able to lessen the sentences. He also pointed out that these cases, especially the sentencing of elderly women and men to years in prison, will bring attention to how the FACE Act is being abused to target pro-lifers.

“I think that this overreach by the federal government, the conviction of these people, is …  going to galvanize people,” he said. “It certainly has not discouraged our clients. It is going to galvanize the pro-life world and give it energy.”

Bell has long been a pro-life champion.

Bell was 24 years old and shocked when the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S. She became even more appalled when she saw how little the church spoke up for the rights of children in the womb. To Bell, it was eerily reminiscent of the lack of action initiated by Christians in response to the atrocities of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Her lifetime of passive resistance has been built upon her Catholic upbringing and belief in the sacredness of human life. Her means of resistance was always peaceable, compassionate, and respectful toward those whose actions she opposed. For Bell, it was simply not possible to do nothing about “the worst mass murder of all.”

If the pro-life advocates were environmental activists or a leftist supporting Hamas, their sit-in at an abortion business would have earned her a misdemeanor charge and maybe a small fine. But because she is a pro-life advocate protesting abortion, the Biden administration used the FACE Act to prosecute her for supposedly blocking access to abortion.

Even though the law, which abrogates the free speech rights of pro-life Americans, has rarely been used, the Biden administration pushed for putting several pro-life advocates in prison for over a decade for protesting abortion. Biden officials misused the law to push for the highest penalties, reserved for violent criminal behavior, to prosecute peaceful pro-life Americans who merely exercised their free speech rights.

Lauren Handy, a Catholic, is a well-known pro-life voice on the political left. She was the primary organizer and leader of the peaceful protest sponsored by  Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising that led to the ongoing court cases.

In a statement before the ruling, Handy shed some perspective on being jailed for her pro-life activism.

“It has been close to 9 months since I was abruptly ripped from my community. This has led me to think long and hard on what to say about my sentencing today in federal court. Some drafts were angry and righteous while most were just a tearstained longing for my loved ones back home. Yes, this time has been challenging but I refuse to be jaded. Why? Because life goes on… even in jail. So I might as well continue to love and cry and scream and dance. That is joy. The feeling of being fully alive without shame. Which is something no court can take from me. So today, I am at peace with myself and my future. I will go into court with my head held high and my heart open.”

PAAU condemned the ruling today, telling LifeNews that Handy has been wrongly sentenced to 4 years &  9 months in federal prison for an act of peaceful civil disobedience to prevent federal crimes such as partial birth abortion and infanticide.

The condemnation of the ruling was swift.

“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,” Rep. Chip Roy said in a statement. “House Republicans should defund the DOJ weaponization, repeal the FACE Act, and stand up for the freedoms that we campaign on.”

Caroline Smith, Executive Director of the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising said, “The abortion industry wants to scare, intimidate, fear-monger, and isolate us. But what they don’t know is we have a radical hope that goes beyond the concrete walls of both prisons and abortuaries. I believe the oppression that the DOJ is expressing right now will absolutely backfire on them in the near future. Oppression always backfires, especially when your motivation is blood money. Abortion is murder, and fetuses are people, and nothing will stop Rescue.”

PAAU Founder Terrisa Bukovinac said “Today the Biden Administration and Merrick Garland’s DOJ have reached a new level of tyranny. There is no other social justice movement in our nation who’s activists are subject to years in federal prison for nonviolent resistance. This blatant viewpoint discrimination has incalculable consequences for babies, their parents, those who defend them, and for peaceful activists across movements worldwide. I continue to stand by Lauren and the other 8 defendants who risked their freedoms to stand in defense of the least of us.”

A total of 10 pro-life advocate face the federal criminal charges after they were arrested and indicted for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) in 2020 at the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, DC. That’s a late-term abortion facility suspected of breaking federal law by performing partial birth abortions and illegally allowing babies born aluive after failed abortions to die.

The defendants – often called “rescuers” by fellow members of the pro-life movement – partook in a 2020 peaceful protest against a notorious Washington, D.C. abortuary that performed late-term abortions.

Last year, all nine were found guilty of violating the controversial Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. They each face a sentence of up to 11 years in federal prison. The FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act prohibits individuals from attempting to injure, intimidate, or interfere (by use of force, threat of force, or physical obstruction) with anyone obtaining or performing an abortion.

The indictment in the case says that on Oct. 22, 2020, 10 individuals “conspired with one another and with others known and unknown to obstruct access” to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C.

“It was the purpose of the conspiracy to create a blockade to stop the clinic from providing and patients from obtaining reproductive health services,” the indictment alleges. The indictment says the defendants used “deception” to gain access to the clinic, used “force” to enter, and barricaded themselves inside with “ropes and chains.”

A video of the rescue shows the pro-life advocates praying and singing inside the abortion facility and refusing to leave so abortions could end the lives of unborn children.

Stephen Crampton, senior counsel for the nonprofit legal firm Thomas More Society, says the cases are clearly political persecution.

“They waited a year and a half to file this action,” Crampton said. “If indeed this was some sort of dire offense and the defendants ought to be incarcerated, why in the world, does the government wait a year and a half to file the charges?”

“The climate activists were out there [in D.C.] gluing their hands to the streets, shutting down traffic and everything, you think there’s any chance the feds are going to prosecute those people or try to put them in prison for 11 years?” he asked.

He also told Fox News that finding a fair jury was practically impossible considering that D.C. is the “most pro-abortion city in America.”

The pro-lifers on trial conducted a rescue at the Washington Surgi-Clinic operated by the notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo who was busted by a LiveAction undercover investigator for admitting that he would not help a child with life-saving efforts if he or she survived a late-term abortion. He emphatically stated that a nearby hospital’s efforts to save the life of a child he was trying to abort was “the stupidest thing they could have done.”

Lauren Handy and Herb Geraghty cited those videos as the reason for the rescue and protest at the abortion business because of the concern babies might be left to die. They chained themselves to the entrace of the abortion center in an attempt to stop abortions.

A pro-life advocate says the charges are wrong because the protests were non-violent.

Caroline Taylor Smith, executive director of PAAU told LifeNews, “This overreaching of power and authority by Biden’s DOJ is egregious and must be stopped. Nonviolent prolife actions should not be a federal crime, and peaceful people with a desire to save lives should not be jailed for over a decade. Some of these Rescuers could be facing death by incarceration. We must repeal the FACE Act now!”

Jonathan Darnel, one of the four pro-life Americans Biden is targeting in this second trial, plead not guilty to the charges.

“I am definitely not guilty of the charges leveled against me, which is rather ironic that I should find myself in this position,” Darnel told Fox News Digital in an interview. “Nevertheless, if a jury finds me guilty of FACE even erroneously, it would be an honor because the kids are worthy of protection.”

Senior Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotely a Clinton nominee, is presiding over the hearings, which are slated to take place at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia just a few blocks from the U.S. Supreme Court. The sentencings will continue on Wednesday, May 15, with Herb (born Rosemary) Geraghty at 9:00 a.m., Jonathan Darnel at 11:00 a.m., Jean Marshall at 1:30 p.m., and Joan Andrews Bell at 3:00 p.m. On Friday, May 17, the judge is scheduled to sentence Heather Idoni at 9:30 a.m.

Kollar-Kotely was also originally going to sentence the final defendant, Paulette Harlow, on Friday. However, Harlow’s sentencing was postponed until two weeks later on Friday, May 31, at 1:30 p.m.

Last year, former President Donald Trump promised to support “political prisoners” if he’s elected president. During the Family Research Council’s “Pray, Vote, Stand Summit” in Washington, D.C., Trump vowed to get innocent Americans out of jail for standing up for their beliefs while criminals run rampant. 

“I am announcing that the moment I win the election, I will appoint a special task force to rapidly review the cases of every political prisoner who has been unjustly persecuted by the Biden administration,” Trump said. 

Trump referenced the convictions of pro-life advocates who now face as many as 11 years in prison for rescuing babies from abortions at a late-term abortion business in Washington D.C.

“If we stand together in this fight, we’re going to defeat Crooked Joe Biden; if he runs — will he make it to the starting gate?” Trump said.

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