Lauren Handy Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Blocking Abortion Clinic

Anti-abortion activist Lauren Handy has been sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in prison for leading a blockade of the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington D.C. in 2020, violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and conspiracy against rights, highlighting the ongoing debate and tensions surrounding abortion rights in the United States." This description focuses on the primary topic of the article (Lauren Handy's sentencing for blocking an abortion clinic), the main entity (Lauren Handy), the context (Washington D.C. in 2020), and the significant action (violation of the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights). It also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the setting of the clinic and the activist's actions.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Lauren Handy Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Blocking Abortion Clinic

Lauren Handy Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Blocking Abortion Clinic

On Tuesday, anti-abortion activist Lauren Handy, 30, was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in prison for leading a blockade of the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington D.C. on October 22, 2020. Handy was convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and conspiracy against rights.

Why this matters: This sentencing highlights the ongoing debate and tensions surrounding abortion rights in the United States, with implications for access to reproductive healthcare and the role of activism in shaping public policy. The case also raises questions about the balance between free speech and the protection of individuals' rights to access medical services.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly handed down the sentence, criticizing Handy for prioritizing her activism over the needs of women seeking medical care at the clinic. "Neither you nor any of the other co-conspirators showed any compassion, empathy, toward those two women needing medical care," Judge Kollar-Kotelly said. "Your views took precedence over, frankly, their human needs."

During the blockade, Handy and nine co-defendants used chains, bike locks, furniture, and their bodies to forcibly block the clinic's entrance. At least two women were prevented from receiving medical services, and a clinic nurse sprained her ankle in the chaos. The group livestreamed their actions on social media for hours before police arrived to arrest them.

Handy's attorneys from the Thomas More Society argued she deserved a lesser sentence due to her history of charitable works and commitment to nonviolence. Judge Kollar-Kotelly agreed to a slight downward variance from federal sentencing guidelines, imposing a 57-month prison term. Handy will also serve three years of supervised release and is barred from coming within 1,000 feet of an abortion clinic.

The FACE Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, prohibits obstructing access to or destruction of abortion clinics and other reproductive health facilities. Handy, the director of activism for Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, has a history of involvement in such blockades, previously serving jail time for similar protests in Virginia and Michigan.

In 2022, Handy made headlines when police found five fetuses at her home in Capitol Hill. Although no charges were filed in relation to the fetuses, the group claimed they were recovered from the Washington Surgi-Clinic and showed evidence of illegal abortions. The D.C. medical examiner has not publicly released any findings.

Handy has been in custody since her conviction in August 2023. In a statement before the sentencing, she remained defiant, saying, "I am at peace with myself and my future. I will go into court with my head held high and heart open." Her attorneys plan to appeal the conviction. The eight other activists involved in the clinic blockade are scheduled to be sentenced over the next few days.

Key Takeaways

  • Lauren Handy, 30, sentenced to 4 years 9 months in prison for leading a blockade of a Washington D.C. abortion clinic.
  • Handy convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and conspiracy against rights.
  • Judge criticizes Handy for prioritizing activism over women's medical needs, showing no compassion or empathy.
  • Handy's group used chains, locks, and bodies to block clinic entrance, preventing 2 women from receiving medical care.
  • Handy will serve 3 years of supervised release and is barred from coming within 1,000 feet of an abortion clinic.