Pro-Life Advocate Lauren Handy Seeks Emergency Jail Release After FACE Act Conviction

By Published on August 31, 2023

Thomas More Society attorneys filed on August 30 an emergency motion with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the Court to reconsider its order detaining pro-life advocate Lauren Handy while she awaits sentencing.

Concluding that Handy’s violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act was a “crime of violence,” U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered Handy and her four co-defendants be immediately taken into custody after the federal jury returned its verdict on August 29, 2023. In their motion, Thomas More Society Senior Counsels Martin Cannon and Steve Crampton argue that under federal law and binding precedents from the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, the FACE Act is not categorically a “crime of violence,” and should not lead to pre-sentencing detention.

Handy and her co-defendants were found guilty of violating the FACE Act during a peaceful protest at a notorious Washington, D.C. abortion facility in October 2020. Thomas More Society attorneys plan to appeal Handy’s conviction.

After the jury returned its verdict, an army of U.S. Marshals led Handy and her co-defendants out of the courtroom. “That is outrageous. These pro-life advocates committed no violence during their protest at the abortion facility as they kneeled and prayed, distributed pro-life literature and counseled women considering abortions,” said Crampton. “The real violence is what happens to an innocent child during an abortion procedure.” 

In a drive to prosecute FACE cases, the Biden Department of Justice charged Handy and her co-defendants with one count of “Conspiracy Against Rights” and one count of “Clinic Access Obstruction” in March 2022. The charges were filed nearly one and a half years after Handy organized the October 2020 protest at the facility operated by notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo, who has long been suspected of refusing care to infants born alive during abortions. This week, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department confirmed it is investigating  Santangelo and his facility.

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During the trial, Handy testified that she had viewed an undercover video produced by pro-life group Live Action that showed an abortionist at the facility would refuse to treat an infant who had survived an abortion attempt. She also passed out flyers at the protest that asserted that live-birth abortions were being performed at the facility.

“Ms. Handy was there to prevent these horrific live-birth abortions, which does not violate the FACE Act,” said Cannon. “However, she has become a victim of the merciless drive by Biden’s Department of Justice to prosecute those who are trying to protect preborn human beings. To add to that injustice, she was incarcerated when the true violence continues to be committed against innocent children.”

A national non-profit leader, Handy founded Mercy Missions in 2017. The mutual aid organization assists families and mothers in crisis pregnancies and provides relief for the homeless. “Clearly, Ms. Handy does not pose a danger to the safety of any person or the community and is not a flight risk,” Cannon added. “Therefore, she should be released immediately.” 

Read the emergency motion filed August 30, 2023 by Thomas More Society attorneys in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Lauren Handy’s Emergency Motion for Reconsideration of Order of Detention Pending Imposition of Sentence, here.


The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, religious liberty, and election integrity. Headquartered in Chicago and with offices across the country, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit

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