Pro-Life Activist Appeals Lower Court Decision Denying Her Release from Jail Before Sentencing

By Mary Margaret Olohan Published on September 8, 2023

The Thomas More Society has filed an emergency motion to appeal a lower court decision that denied pro-life activist Lauren Handy’s release from jail ahead of her sentencing.

Attorneys with the Thomas More Society filed their motion to appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday asking to reverse a lower court ruling that denied Handy’s immediate release from jail.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had ordered that Handy and four other pro-life activists be immediately detained on August 29, the Thomas More Society said in a release, after a Washington, D.C., jury has convicted the five pro-life activists of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when they sought to prevent the abortions of unborn babies by blocking women from accessing a D.C. abortion clinic in 2020.

“In both the original motion and the appeal, Thomas More Society attorneys argue that under federal statute and binding precedents from the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, the FACE Act is not categorically a ‘crime of violence,’ and should not lead to pre-sentencing detention,” the legal group said in a release.

“The only basis for a finding of the use of force was when an overzealous clinic worker rushed at the pro-life advocates and tried to forcibly remove them from the clinic waiting room, resulting in her twisting an ankle,” they continued. “There was no allegation that Ms. Handy or the co-defendants intended to harm anyone.”

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The FACE Act protects both abortion clinics and pro-life pregnancy centers, but the DOJ has disproportionately used it to charge pro-life activists with FACE violations since the Supreme Court’s June 2022 overturn of Roe v. Wade.

And the Justice Department has said that it is targeting pro-life activists through the FACE Act as a response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, according to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

The DOJ charged at least 26 pro-life individuals in 2022 with violations of the FACE Act. No far-left attackers were charged with the FACE Act in 2022, and the DOJ has charged only four people with FACE Act violations in 2023 for attacking Florida pro-life pregnancy centers.

At least 88 pro-life groups and 189 churches have been attacked since the May leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, according to Catholic Vote trackers. Vandals often tagged these buildings with threats such as “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” making the attacks incidents of suspected pro-abortion violence that federal authorities have been slow to investigate.


Mary Margaret Olohan is a senior reporter for The Daily Signal. She previously reported for The Daily Caller and The Daily Wire, where she covered national politics as well as social and cultural issues. Email her at [email protected].

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