WASHINGTON (AP) — Five anti-abortion activists, including a woman who was discovered to have five fetuses in her home, were convicted Tuesday of illegally blocking a reproductive clinic in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post reported.
Lauren Handy of Virginia was part of a group accused of violating federal law when they blocked access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in October 2020. Handy and four others — John Hinshaw and William Goodman of New York, Heather Idoni of Michigan and Herb Geraghty of Pennsylvania — were all found guilty Tuesday, the Post said. A trial for four others involved in the blockade begins next week.
Members of the group, known as the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, were prosecuted under a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or the FACE Act, which prohibits physically obstructing or using the threat of force to intimidate or interfere with a person seeking reproductive health services.
In court documents, prosecutors said Handy called the clinic pretending to be a prospective patient and scheduling an appointment. Once there, on Oct. 22, 2020, another member started a live feed on Facebook as the rest of the group lined up outside the clinic, the indictment said.
When a worker opened the door for patients, eight of the suspects pushed their way inside and began blocking the doors, and five of them chained themselves together on chairs to block the treatment area, according to court papers. Others blocked the employee entrance to stop other patients from coming inside, while another suspect blocked people from coming into the waiting room, the indictment stated.
The defendants face up to 11 years in prison.
In March 2022, just after Handy and the others were indicted, police found five fetuses in a house in Southeast Washington where she was staying. The Metropolitan Police Department said officers were responding to a tip about “potential bio-hazard material” when they located the fetuses.
The group claimed the fetuses came from medical waste being disposed by the Washington clinic. Members said they contacted the police to collect the fetuses in hopes that an autopsy would prove that the clinic was conducting federally illegal late-stage abortions. Authorities have not charged anyone in that matter, the Post reported.