Sentencing begins for pro-life activists, with Lauren Handy receiving nearly 5 years

On May 14, the sentencing of a group of pro-life activists convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinics (FACE) Act and “conspiracy against rights” began. The first on the docket was pro-life activist Lauren Handy, who was sentenced to nearly five years in prison, followed by John Hinshaw, who was sentenced to nearly two years.

The sentencing of nine pro-life activists began on Tuesday with the hearings of three of the activists convicted last year of violating the FACE Act. Handy, Hinshaw, and William Goodman have been imprisoned since their convictions on August 29, 2023, when they were found guilty of conspiring to violate civil rights and blocking access to notorious abortionist Cesare Santangelo’s Washington, D.C., abortion business in October of 2020.

The activists are said to have used chains, bike locks, furniture, and their bodies to prevent abortions from being committed and to prevent police from removing them from the premises — protest tactics commonly used today and even in decades past.

The conspiracy statute under which the activists have been charged is 18 U.S.C. § 241, which “makes it unlawful for two or more persons to agree to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in the United States in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States or because of his or her having exercised such a right. Unlike most conspiracy statutes, §241 does not require, as an element, the commission of an overt act.” Interestingly, even as abortion advocates push to undo laws from the 1800s (like Arizona’s pro-life law from 1864, which lawmakers recently voted to revoke, as well as federal Comstock laws against mailing abortion drugs across state lines), this particular statute was put in place in 1870. Forbes notes (emphasis added):

Section 241 was initially passed after the Civil War as part of the Enforcement Act of 1870 as a way to punish members of the Ku Klux Klan and other Southerners from intimidating or harassing Black voters for exercising their new voting rights, but has since been used more broadly to thwart attempts to interfere in federal elections.

However, the DOJ’s civil rights division notes that “Section 241 is used in Law Enforcement Misconduct and Hate Crime Prosecutions. It was historically used, before conspiracy-specific trafficking statutes were adopted, in Human Trafficking prosecutions.”

Now, it has been used against pro-lifers seeking to prevent homicide against preborn human beings.

Lauren Handy

Thirty-year-old Handy was represented by Steve Crampton and Martin Cannon, both Thomas More Society Senior Counsel. In a statement, Thomas More Society said, “These charges were brought by the Biden Department of Justice against Handy and several other pro-life advocates and carried a potential sentence of up to 11 years. The Biden Department of Justice requested a sentence up to six-and-a-half years, while Thomas More Society attorneys asked the Court to show leniency with a 12-month sentence—which effectively amounts to time-served.”

Instead, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Handy more in accord with the DOJ’s request — 57 months with credit for the time served (nine months). Handy will spend the next 48 months — four years — in prison. She also faces fines totaling $125. After her release in 2028, she will be placed on probation, will be prohibited from knowingly entering or coming within 1,000 feet of an abortion facility, and must submit to a mental health assessment and treatment program.

Cannon told Kollar-Kotelly, “This case involves a life and death issue, an issue that goes to the heart of the country. [Lauren] is a person of good faith, acting according to her conscience.” He called Handy’s activism “a fairly classical offense of civil disobedience, like Martin Luther King, or like refusing to give up your seat on the bus.” Handy, he said, is a “peaceful person, whose focus is on passivity and is selfless and kindhearted.”

Kollar-Kotelly, however, said she found Handy’s activism to be uncaring towards the women seeking abortion.

“Neither you nor any of the other co-conspirators showed any compassion, empathy, toward those two women needing medical care,” Kollar-Kotelly said. “Your views took precedence over, frankly, their human needs.”

There is no ‘human need’ for induced abortion, which is the direct and intentional killing of preborn children in the womb. Intentionally killing preborn children is not medically necessary and no mother should be made to feel she “needs” to kill her baby to overcome any challenges she faces. Washington, D.C., has no restrictions on abortion and allows children in the womb to be killed at any time during pregnancy for any reason.


In March of 2022, the bodies of 115 aborted children were found in a medical waste bin outside of Santangelo’s facility. Physician experts told Live Action News that five of the aborted children recovered appear to have been old enough to survive outside the womb, raising questions about potential legal and serious ethical violations by the abortion facility. And yet, no justice has come for these children — no investigation into the brutal and possibly illegal manner of their deaths. Earlier this year, the DOJ even attempted to have the bodies of these children destroyed, until members of Congress and outside legal counsel stepped in.

Handy has said that she was motivated to action to save preborn children from abortion after watching a 2013 Live Action undercover video of abortionist Santangelo in which he indicated to an undercover investigator that he wouldn’t provide certain medical measures for a baby born alive during a botched abortion in his facility. In that video, the abortionist directly states:

I mean, technically, you know, legally, we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive. But, you know, it probably wouldn’t. It’s all in how vigorously you do things to help a fetus survive at this point [24-25 weeks]… you know, there are things you do…. let’s say you went into labor, the membranes ruptured, and you delivered before we got to the termination part of the procedure here, you know. Then we would do things — we would — we would not help it… we wouldn’t — uh, intubate, let’s say. 

In the video, Santangelo makes clear that he would not provide assistance to an abortion survivor and would allow the child to die.

“There was only one thing around which Ms. Handy and her co-defendants were unified, and that was nonviolence,” said Cannon after Handy’s sentencing. “They conspired to be peaceful. Yet, today, the Court granted the Biden Department of Justice its wish by sentencing Ms. Handy to 57 months—nearly 5 years in prison. For her efforts to peacefully protect the lives of innocent preborn human beings, Ms. Handy deserves thanks, not a gut-wrenching prison sentence. We will vigorously pursue an appeal of Ms. Handy’s conviction and attack the root cause of this injustice, that is, the FACE Act—which we believe is unconstitutional and should never again be used to persecute peaceful pro-lifers.”

Crampton added:

Ms. Handy’s 57-month sentence is a miscarriage of justice, plain and simple. As I’ve gotten to know Ms. Handy, I’ve seen up close her unwavering passion for pro-life advocacy and resolute dedication to nonviolence. The caricature of Ms. Handy that the Biden Department of Justice fabricated flies in the face of reality. Ms. Handy should have been shown the same mercy that she has herself shown to countless downtrodden throughout her young life. It is deeply disappointing that this Court did not see through [the] Department of Justice’s smoke and mirrors. But this fight is far from over, and we eagerly look forward to appealing for Ms. Handy and her co-defendants’ freedom, so that the FACE Act can never again be weaponized by the Department of Justice against its ideological opponents.

John Hinshaw

Hinshaw, age 69, was sentenced to 21 months in prison with credit for the nine months he has already served. He will spend the next year in prison and will face a fine of $125. Once released, Hinshaw will be on probation for three years. He will be prohibited from knowingly entering or coming within 1,000 feet of a “reproductive healthcare center” unless granted medical permission.

During his sentencing, Hinshaw spoke to the court, saying, “There is a reason why today’s Gospel reading is to lay down one’s life for his friends. This is not a coincidence.” He continued:

During this unjust imprisonment we were gifted with another baby granddaughter, Charlotte Millie, a fiesty little girl who came early – 32 weeks gestation.  I know this court only considers her a “would-be child” at that age.  At 32 weeks gestation she was at the same age as Phoenix, Harriet, Holly, Christopher X and Angel, the Washington 5 slain by Santangelo.  They are named today in honor of their eternal dignity.  What makes my granddaughter a treasure and these 5 trash?  How is this allowed?  How is this allowed?  It is allowed by Courts covering up the crimes of Santangelo.

It’s allowed by the corrupt Dept. of Justice seeking to destroy the evidence of Santangelo’s crimes.  It’s allowed by the FBI providing private security services to Santangelo.  Today we are truth in this court and the truth is in the ultrasound – we’ve all seen the arms, legs toes, nose the smiles the swallows the snuggles – why is there fear?  New life new love, why fear?  Give them to us, we do not fear them.  We will show you how to conquer fear and how to love them and raise them.  Give them to us.

Today I am told is an opportunity for me to say I’m sorry and so I am sorry.  Sorry for having failed in the vocation bestowed upon me the day I became a father.  The vocation of protecting children.  I have failed this miserably and so I apologize to this court as I believe my failure contributes to the failure of this court to fulfill its vocation to protect the innocent.  And this failure of the court thus contributes to my failure

I am sorry in my failure to the bereaved mother suffering a child lost to abortion.  We are a nation of bereaved mothers.  All of us know some of the millions of broken hearts.  I am sorry I was not there on the day of her crucible.  We have the way of healing to offer.


His brother, Richard Hinshaw, also addressed Judge Kollar-Kotelly, detailing stories of Hinshaw’s character such as how in the third grade, Hinshaw befriended an autistic boy with a strong temper.

“By doing this, John made himself the target of the bullying,” said Richard Hinshaw. “This story illustrates what John has been about his whole life – he has been an advocate and has befriended the most vulnerable. He has especially directed his love and care towards those with mental health issues.”

He added, “I implore the courts — consider my brother’s contributions to society. Consider returning him home to society, into his family, to those who need his loving care.”

Will Goodman

William Goodman, 54, was sentenced to 27 months in prison (with credit for nine months of time served) with fines of $125 on Tuesday for his role in the activism, and he will serve three years probation upon his release. During that time, he will not be permitted to enter or come within 1000 feet of a reproductive health center unless for medical appointments.

Attorney Crampton noted, “The climate activists were out there 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?”

The prosecution attorneys argued that the case itself was “not about abortion” but about “infringing” upon the rights of others.

However Goodman’s attorney responded to such assertions, as well as those made by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who stated that the activists had no compassion for women: “That’s the only reason they [the pro-life activists] were there. They believe that babies are being murdered. That is the definition of empathy and concern.” He added, “This is the first time anyone has been charged for violating FACE. No one has ever been charged in the history of this movement. A year [in prison] is more than sufficient.”

Goodman himself also spoke in court, reportedly stating, “I believe non-violent direct action has served as a very important part of our history,” adding that he believes “God’s law applies to everyone: ‘Thou shalt not kill. And on that day we wanted to honor that law.”

Sentencing hearings for the remaining convicted activists, Herb Geraghty, Jonathan Darnel, Jean Marshall, Joan Bell, Heather Idoni, and Paulette Harlow are scheduled for this week as well as later in May.

Editor’s Note: This post may be updated as further information becomes available. Special thanks to Francesca Dyke and Dana DiMattia for their informational contributions to this article.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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