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From Pro-Life WI:
STATE SUPREME COURT ELECTION NEXT TUESDAY!
PREBORN LIVES HANG IN THE BALANCE
Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz are facing off in the general election for state supreme court on Tuesday, April 4. The Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund Political Action Committee (PAC) is urging pro-life, pro-family, pro-rule of law citizens across Wisconsin to vote for Daniel Kelly for Wisconsin Supreme Court.
It is imperative that Wisconsinites elect a justice who will serve fairly and impartially, respecting and upholding the rule of law. That justice is Daniel Kelly. The same cannot be said for Janet Protasiewicz who has consistently and brazenly pronounced her public policy preferences on matters likely to come before the high court, including abortion and redistricting. Her public support for ‘abortion rights’ is a clear indication that her thumb will be on the scales of justice when it comes to adjudicating our current abortion ban. Janet Protasiewicz will legislate from the bench!
Human lives are at stake in this Wisconsin Supreme Court race!
Wisconsin’s current law abortion ban, s.940.04, is being challenged in our state court system by pro-abortion Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul. If we lose our tenuous 4-3 conservative majority on the state supreme court, a new liberal, activist court will likely rule s.940.04 unenforceable, restoring abortion on demand in Wisconsin. Even worse, a liberal supreme court could find a right to abortion in our state constitution, thus overturning all our pro-life laws. We cannot let this happen! We cannot let Janet Protasiewicz return abortion on demand to Wisconsin.
Justice Kelly is the only candidate in this race with a proven record of judicial conservatism, and therefore the only candidate we trust to uphold the rule of law. His belief in the dignity of the human person makes him the only choice for pro-life voters. We are extremely proud to endorse him.
The PLW Victory Fund PAC is urging pro-life, pro-family, pro-rule of law citizens across Wisconsin to vote In-Person Absentee, Absentee by Mail, or on Election Day Tuesday, April 4, for Daniel Kelly for Wisconsin Supreme Court. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for this nonpartisan race. Learn more about where you should vote, who else is on your local ballot, and for information on voting absentee (by mail or in-person) if you cannot vote on Election Day here.
SENATE INSURANCE AND SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON BILL EXTENDING MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR POSTPARTUM WOMEN
The Senate Committee on Insurance and Small Business will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 110 this Wednesday, March 29, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South of the State Capitol.
Authored by Sen. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan), SB 110 extends Medical Assistance (Medicaid) coverage for postpartum women from 60 days to 365 days. Currently, newborn babies are covered under the Medicaid program up to 365 days after birth. Thirty states already provide 12 months of continuous Medicaid postpartum care for new mothers, eight states are in the process of expanding to 12-month care, and legislation is pending in Missouri to do so.
In a post-Roe nation, Wisconsin is presently a safe haven for mothers and their preborn children. It is vitally important that we provide robust public and private support for pregnant mothers. Extending Medicaid coverage to new mothers for the first year of their child’s life is part of this. It is good public policy. The symbiotic relationship between mom and baby, especially in the first three years of a child’s life, is scientifically irrefutable. A healthy mom will be better equipped to care for her baby, financially, medically, materially, and emotionally.
Senate Bill 110 is beneficial to pregnant mothers, especially those facing crisis pregnancies. Providing comprehensive pre- and post-natal medical coverage for both mom and baby, from conception to one year after birth, will encourage mothers to choose life for their preborn children. Knowing the Medicaid program will provide affordable, optimal, and prolonged care for her and her child, before and after birth, will empower mothers to overcome the abortion temptation in challenging circumstances.
Pro-Life Wisconsin strongly supports this compassionate, bi-partisan legislation. It will save lives and it will save the Medicaid program dollars by promoting healthy outcomes for moms and babies.
With your help, Pro-Life Wisconsin will work for passage of SB 110. Again, the Senate Insurance and Small Business Committee will hold a public hearing this Wednesday, March 29, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South of the State Capitol. Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin Legislative Director, will testify in favor of SB 110.
- Please ATTEND the public hearing and testify or register in favor of SB 110.
- If you are unable to attend the public hearing, please CALL or EMAIL your state senator TODAY and urge him/her to “Support AB 110.” Tell them, “Encourage mothers to choose life for their preborn children. Support mothers and their newborn babies with extended postpartum Medicaid coverage.”
- Don’t know your state senator? Go to legis.wisconsin.gov and type in your home address under “Who Are My Legislators” or call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-362-9472.
Please make your pro-life voices heard in the Wisconsin Senate. Thank you!
LAST CHANCE TO PRAY WITH THE 40 DAYS FOR LIFE SPRING CAMPAIGN
The 40 Days for Life Campaign wraps up this week! Join fellow pro-lifers in praying outside your local abortion center. Since their founding in 2007, 40 Days for Life campaigns have saved 22,829 babies through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil outside of local abortion facilities. While abortion is illegal here in Wisconsin, abortion-bound women continue to visit local Planned Parenthood facilities and community “health” centers to obtain contraception and information on the procurement of abortion. Our work is not done!
We invite you to commit to prayer time on the sidewalks outside these facilities. Bring your friends and family, or call us if you’d like a member of our Pro-Life Wisconsin staff to join you. If you or your campaign is in need of signs, we can ship you one or as many as you need. Please go to a campaign near you and get involved. Current cities include Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and Waukesha.
Why does Wisconsin’s judicial race matter? Here’s why pro-lifers are concerned
18 Years After They Starved My Sister to Death, We Must Never Forget Terri Schiavo
Memories of Pre-Dawn Raids at Gunpoint Haunt Pro-Life Activists, Friends, and Family
Activists say family members held at gunpoint by FBI more than a year after attending protests at abortion clinics
Mark Houck with his daughter, Imelda, at their home in Kintnersville, Pa., on March 17, 2023. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
By Jackson Elliott, Epoch Times
March 27, 2023
Jonathan Darnel woke at 5:30 a.m. to fists pounding on his door.
There was a crash as it was torn from its hinges, then shouts of armed men, he told The Epoch Times.
Without warning, FBI agents swarmed in to arrest him.
His crime: participating in what he calls a “peaceful pro-life protest” nearly two years prior.
Similar scenes have played out at the homes of several of the 26 pro-life activists arrested nationwide in 2022 and 2023. Some were given the opportunity to turn themselves in. At least one was arrested at work.
Many of these pro-life activists now face up to a year in prison for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. They also could be sentenced to more than 10 more years for the charge of “conspiracy against rights,” because they were acting in a group.
As of yet, none have been sentenced. At least one was taken from his home at gunpoint as his wife demanded to see a warrant and his terrified children cried.
An 11-year sentence would be an unprecedented punishment for participating in protests that were not violent, a legal expert told The Epoch Times.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has deployed predawn raids with dozens of armed agents and coordinated ambushes against these protesters whose alleged crimes neither damaged property nor harmed people.
Yet attacks on centers that seek to give pregnant women options other than abortion have failed to attract the same attention from federal law enforcement.
There were 82 confirmed attacks on crisis pregnancy centers in 2022, according to Catholic Vote, an organization that “advocates living out the Catholic faith in public life.” As of March 2023, the FBI has arrested just two people thought to be responsible for some of the attacks, the organization noted.
In a press release, the FBI said it is continuing to investigate threats against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and abortion clinics.
“The incidents are being investigated as potential acts of domestic violent extremism, FACE Act violations, or violent crime matters, depending on the facts of each case,” the statement reads. “The FBI takes all violence and threats of violence very seriously and we are working closely with our law enforcement partners at the national, state, and local levels to investigate these incidents.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the DOJ for comment but didn’t receive a response by press time.
Rounding up Pro-Life Activists
Federal agents forced their way into the homes of at least three pro-life activists in 2022.
The raids have left children terrorized, homes damaged, and families worried about their future.
And in the wake of the raids, families’ lives are forever changed, as the charged activists face the uncertainty of prison time and legal bills that quickly mount into the six-figure range.
In the case of Darnel, the FBI agents wouldn’t let him change clothes before taking him from his home on that chilly morning.
So he walked into the agency’s Washington headquarters on March 30, 2022, in a sweater, pajamas, and shoes with laces removed, he told The Epoch Times.
Agents didn’t tell him why he’d been brought in, he said.
“I’d just woken up,” Darnell told The Epoch Times almost a year later, as he awaits trial. “I was trying to plan my day in my head.”
Soon after his arrest, Darnel discovered that he faced 11 years in prison for his role in protest he characterizes as peaceful.
Other crimes that carry a similar sentence include arson, kidnapping, and negligent homicide.
FBI agents didn’t show him a warrant, he said.
“It was just an early morning dawn raid—grab this guy and throw him in a car and drive off with him,” said Darnel, the founder of the Christian, pro-life website GetSeriousChurch.com. “It was very, very spooky.”
Before he could make sense of what was happening, agents had smashed through two doors in his home, he said.
“I guess I delayed too long.”
Darnel’s housemate, Ed Caughlan, and three others in the home confirmed the details. They described looking down the barrels of pointed at them, while a bomb disposal robot waited outside.
Bewildered, Darnel’s four roommates were handcuffed and forced to sit against a wall inside.
“The most vivid image was multiple M16s being pointed at me, as I answered the downstairs door to a peacetime standing army,” Caughlan said.
En route to the FBI facility, Darnel tried to tell agents they were in the wrong.
“If they’re called upon to arrest people for trying to save babies or give babies a decent burial, they really need to reconsider their line of work,” he said.
Nationwide Prosecution of Protesters
The protesters with Darnel at the Washington Surgi-Clinic weren’t the only pro-life protesters to face harsh law enforcement tactics over the past two years.
The DOJ also has filed charges against 11 pro-life protesters who say they entered peacefully and simply sat down in a Mount Juliet, Tennessee, abortion clinic in March 2021. They face possible sentences of up to 11 years in prison for violating the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights.
Eight other protesters were charged and face similar sentences for violating the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights for blockading a Sterling Heights, Michigan, abortion clinic by sitting and praying in front of the door in August 2020.
These groups have some overlap.
Protesters Chester Gallagher, Calvin Zastrow, and Caroline Davis each face one 11-year sentence for blocking access to both the Mount Juliet abortion clinic and another 11-year sentence for blocking the Sterling Heights clinic.
Eva Edl and Eva Zastrow each face an 11-year sentence for violating the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights for blocking access to the Sterling Heights clinic. They also both face a potential one-year sentence for violating the FACE Act at the Mount Juliet clinic.
Heather Idoni, who participated in all three protests, faces three 11-year sentences.
In a separate incident, the government charged Rev. Fidelis Moscinski, a Catholic priest in Hempstead, New York, for violating the FACE Act. He used chains to block a clinic entrance.
And after an October 2021 dust-up with a pro-abortion activist at an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, armed agents surprised pro-life activist Mark Houck at his home in a pre-dawn raid. As his children cried and his wife asked for information, they put him in a car and drove away, charging him with violating the FACE Act.
Houck is the founder of a Catholic men’s mentorship group, The King’s Men, according to the DOJ website.
Before that, Houck’s attorneys had told federal prosecutors he was willing to submit himself to the FBI if needed for questioning.
It appeared the FBI didn’t want him to come in on his own, Houck said.
It was before dawn, and Houck was whipping up a quiche for his wife and seven homeschooled children.
“I hear a heavy banging at the door, and the doorbell is rung repeatedly,” Houck told The Epoch Times. “And all I hear outside is someone yelling, ‘Open up!’ like there’s some sort of problem outside.”
He wondered if there had been an emergency, he said, or if there was a “madman trying to get into my house.”
Nearly a year had passed since his scuffle with a pro-abortion activist. So that wasn’t on his mind, he said.
When he opened the door, he saw FBI agents wearing bullet-proof vests and ballistic helmets. There were 15 law enforcement vehicles and two battering rams.
Then there were the guns.
State police pointed pistols at him, he said. Five agents on his porch holding shields pointed M16 rifles at him, and then they pointed the guns at his wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, as well, he said.
A senior FBI source told Fox News that Houck never had guns pointed at him. Houck told The Epoch Times that the denial is “patently false.”
Behind Houck and his wife, their seven children stood on the stairs terrified and weeping.
“It was just completely reckless, because someone could have been shot,” Houck said.
And when his wife asked for a warrant, Houck said, the agent replied, “We’re taking him, with or without a warrant.”
‘They wanted to scare pro-life America’
The FBI cuffed Houck, put him in a black SUV, and drove him away in his flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirt. He wasn’t allowed to put on clothes or brush his teeth, he said.
“They didn’t even give me permission to say goodbye to my children,” Houck said.
Houck was belly-shackled, with handcuffs that connected to a chain around his stomach. He was held for six hours, cuffed to a table at a local federal office, he said.
Agents fingerprinted him, interrogated him, and conducted a hearing. They released him 10 hours later, he said, after indicating that they’d determined he wasn’t a flight risk and posed no threat to the community.
“You have to ask yourself, why the tremendous show of force when they knew that already?”
On Jan. 30, 2023, a jury found Houck not guilty of violating the FACE Act.
But Houck still wonders why he was arrested with such force, and in a way he believes put his family’s safety at risk.
He doesn’t have a criminal record and owns no guns, he told The Epoch Times. He also said he has no skills dangerous enough to justify using over 15 armed agents to arrest him, he added.
“It’s not logical,” Houck said. “They wanted to show and silence other pro-lifers and scare pro-life America.”
According to the FBI, there are “inaccurate claims being made” about Houck’s arrest.
“The FBI then employs the personnel and tactics deemed necessary to effect a safe arrest or search,” reads a written statement about Houck’s arrest.
“While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence,” the statement reads.
Others involved have questioned whether the dramatic arrests, including predawn raids and coordinated multi-state round-ups, were warranted.
Houck had been providing sidewalk counseling outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia with his 12-year-old son Mark, Jr. on Oct. 13, 2021. He was trying to talk women approaching the clinic out of abortion.
The details of exactly what happened vary, depending on who’s telling the story.
According to Houck, trouble began when a 72-year-old clinic escort approached and started aggressively telling Mark, Jr. that his father was a bad person who was hurting women.
“He’s extremely vulgar, very belligerent. He’s taught my son the F-word,” Houck said.
Houck’s son backed away, but the person continued to approach, staying within feet of the boy, while hurling insults, Houck alleged.
Fuming, Houck shoved the person away from his son, he said. Houck’s attorney said the men weren’t near anyone else.
The person fell, but got up with nothing more than a scraped arm, Houck said.
The clinic escort’s criminal complaint against Houck differs from Houck’s account.
In a criminal trial in the U.S. District Court of the East District of Pennsylvania, the person said Houck verbally confronted him and shoved him while he was escorting women out of Planned Parenthood, according to a DOJ press release.
A half-hour later, Houck allegedly walked over to him, threatened him, then shoved him again, the person testified. The person also said he never spoke to Houck’s son.
The Epoch Times contacted the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood where the incident took place, but didn’t receive comment by press time. The Epoch Times also reached out to the clinic escort but did not receive a reply.
Prior to his acquittal by a jury, Houck had faced the possibility of 11 years in prison.
More Punishment for Protestors
The chain of events that brought Darnel to FBI headquarters in March 2022 began 17 months earlier, on Oct. 22, 2020.
On that day, Darnel—along with other pro-lifers, and some activists with the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU)—acted out what they call a “direct action rescue” at the Washington Surgi-Clinic abortion center.
The nine-person group included people from many backgrounds, including evangelical Christians, Catholics, progressives, and anarchists.
They all agreed that abortion was murder and they planned to peacefully oppose it by trying to enter the clinic and persuade women not to go through with abortion.
Darnel’s website encourages all Christians to dedicate 2 percent of their time to peaceful action against abortion. He’s been arrested “many times” by police, he said, for what he describes as peaceful protest.
But no sacrifice is too great, because “there are millions of children being murdered in the nation every year,” he told The Epoch Times.
Pro-abortion activist group We Engage posted pictures of the Surgi-Clinic protest on its Facebook page. The pictures show pro-life activists tied or chained to chairs inside the clinic. The chairs appear to block one door inside the clinic.
Activist Will Goodman was part of the group that day.
Surgi-Clinic staff allegedly became violent when they entered the building, Goodman told The Epoch Times. Clinic workers attacked group members and attempted to slam doors on the fingers of Goodman and fellow protester Idoni, he alleged.
“They were even using a broom handle or a mop handle to hit the pro-lifers, who were now on the ground,” Goodman said.
In response, the pro-life protesters went limp, as they’d been trained, he said.
“Rev. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] taught that we will not use violence to end violence. Rather, it is through non-violent direct action, through mercy and dialogue, that we will try to change hearts.”
The Epoch Times contacted the Washington Surgi-Clinic abortion center to respond to the allegations but didn’t receive a comment by press time.
Arrested, But Not Charged
During the confrontation between the protestors and Surgi-Clinic staff, men in suits arrived, Goodman said. They watched, and they photographed the pro-life band.
Goodman suspected the bystanders were federal attorneys from the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. Other pro-life participants said they suspected the men were with the FBI.
After the men in suits had watched for a while, police arrested Goodman, Darnel, Idoni, PAAU activism director Lauren Handy, Jay Smith, Paulette Harlow, Jean Marshall, John Hinshaw, and Joan Bell.
Bell, the oldest, was 74. Five group members were older than 60.
While in jail, group members faced interrogation from FBI agents, Goodman said. Both he and Darnel said they didn’t recall police reading them their rights.
“All of us were essentially interrogated under duress and without being given clear direction that we should have our counsel present when being interrogated by the FBI,” he said.
They spent hours in Washington’s Second District Police Department, but were never charged, he said.
Two years later, in March 2022, FBI agents swept in to arrest all of them at almost the same time in a coordinated, multi-state operation.
After their arrests, the activists started to wonder if the FBI had been trailing them, Handy told The Epoch Times.
PAAU members knew for sure that the FBI had infiltrated their activist planning meetings, said Terrisa Bukovinac, the group’s executive director.
An agent produced an audio recording of a group meeting in January 2023 to argue in federal court that, by planning a protest, Handy had violated her terms of release from jail after being arrested in October 2020.
“We were very concerned about pro-abortion people infiltrating,” Bukovinac said. “We weren’t really thinking about the FBI.”
Bukovinac said the FBI plant was a man who called himself Eric Mike Santos. Santos arrived at PAAU’s online meeting late, left early, and emailed Handy, asking for information about her plans.
“We realized [later] that he was the only person no one knew,” Bukovinac said. “We went back to look at his Facebook page, and it had been deleted.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland pressing him for answers on the alleged FBI infiltration of PAAU’s meeting and why it happened.
Other events also suggested the FBI had infiltrated PAAU, Bukovinac said.
In one incident, a PAAU member used a fake social media account to ask about a planned pro-abortion protest by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights (RU4AR).
PAAU members hoped to stealthily obtain the details so they could prepare a counterprotest, Bukovinac said.
A representative of RU4AR replied and asked the PAAU member to plan a pro-abortion protest event, she said.
The PAAU member posing as a pro-abortion activist agreed, Bukovinac said. Fellow members were giddy about the plan to pretend to arrange a pro-abortion demonstration for RU4AR, she said.
When RU4AR members showed up, PAAU members plotted to surprise them with a pro-life demonstration, complete with media coverage, Bukovinac said.
“We were hysterically laughing about this plan for a week,” said Bukovinac. “It was so hilarious.”
But 10 minutes before the protest was scheduled, RU4AR somehow caught on to the trick, she said. The group removed online details about the protest and blocked PAAU members on social media.
Somehow, Bukovinac said, RU4AR members learned PAAU was planning the event, not as a pro-abortion protest, but as a pro-life gathering. She blames a mole, possibly a tip-off from the FBI.
“They found out somehow, and we didn’t know how,” she said.
In another incident, PAAU planned to protest at three Washington abortion clinics.
“Our plan is to go in, hand out roses, and leave,” Bukovinac said.
But, when the pro-life activists rolled up, all three clinics had police present, she said.
“We’re like, what the hell? There’s no way they were at all 21 abortion centers in the DMV area. How would they know it’s these three?” she said.
Then, a plainclothes police officer revealed to a journalist accompanying PAAU that the group was under surveillance, Bukovinac said.
The journalist, she said, told the group that the officer had said, “We’re tracking everything they’re doing. We know where they’re going when we see their conversations.”
On March 30, 2022, FBI agents arrested eight participants in the Surgi-Clinic protest, all within a few hours of each other, Handy said. It was 17 months after the incident.
Some were taken quietly. Some faced armed agents.
That morning, messages and calls alerted Handy to the FBI sweep.
Moscinski, the priest, was first to call Handy to tell her the FBI had arrested another ally, Hinshaw.
“You need to prepare yourself,” he advised.
Then Darnel didn’t return messages, and Handy learned from one of his roommates about the raid on their house in Alexandria, Virginia.
“The FBI just took him! What’s going on?” the baffled roommate asked.
Handy, who wasn’t home, wondered when they’d come for her. It already had been a nightmarish day.
She feared the FBI would visit her parent’s house because she’d just moved from there, she said. She headed to her apartment in an Uber, she said.
When she stepped out, the street burst into activity.
About 10 suited FBI agents jumped from black vehicles and rushed at her.
“It was so surreal,” Handy said, recalling a female agent gently removing her eyebrow piercings.
Soon, she found herself in the roach-infested Central Cell Block in Washington.
“I was like, ‘OK, I understand what’s happening now,’” she said.
Police let her out before the end of the day. She was charged with conspiracy against rights because she’d been part of the group at the Surgi-Clinic confrontation. She also was charged with violating the FACE Act.
But Handy didn’t feel bothered by her arrest, she said. She was still trying to process the horror she’d witnessed over the previous few days.
Human Remains Found
Before returning to her apartment, Handy had been trying to give police potential evidence of a horrific crime.
Five days earlier, she and her friend Bukovinac asked for help from a man collecting medical waste from a medical clinic.
They wanted to see what was being thrown away, they told him. He obliged.
As Handy began to examine the waste, she recoiled.
The baby boy didn’t have a name, but had thin black hair, perfectly formed tiny fingers and toes, and pink, slightly-peeling skin.
He was dead, dumped in a bucket of blood-dark fluid. Handy picked him up in gloved hands and cried.
Her apartment and its refrigerator would be his tomb temporarily, she decided, until she could figure out what to do next.
She called the Metropolitan Police Department. She wanted answers. Was he a baby murdered by the clinic, or a legally terminated fetus? Was his death evidence of a crime?
And he wasn’t the only one.
The medical waste allegedly included 114 more bodies of babies estimated to be aborted at up to 35 weeks’ gestation.
Broken-hearted, the woman reached out to other pro-life friends for help. A priest working with PAAU buried 110 of the bodies in an undisclosed location, Bukovinac said.
Group members kept five of the bodies to turn over to the police as potential evidence of an illegal partial-birth abortion or infanticide. Partially delivering, then killing, a growing baby has been illegal nationwide since 2003.
Handy said one could never forget holding many “murder victims in your own hands.”
Police said they couldn’t come right away, she said. In the meantime, Handy decided to stay at Bukovinac’s place out of respect for the dead.
She was headed home when she began to hear of the arrests of fellow protestors. That’s when she was taken.
“I just suffered such a massive personal trauma with finding 115 dead children that getting arrested didn’t really feel or mean anything to me,” she said.
Even more bewildering, it later seemed the FBI had used Handy’s efforts to turn over potential evidence as a way to arrest her.
On April 8, 2022, 69 Republican Congressmen sent a letter to Garland, demanding that police investigate whether the babies Bukovinac and Handy found were victims of partial-birth abortion. The letter asked for police to perform an autopsy.
A day after her arrest, Metropolitan police finally came to Handy’s home to collect the five bodies. Police still haven’t questioned her or Bukovinac about them.
“It’s just business as usual for DC police: cover up and ignore,” Bukovinac said.
Maximum Sentences for Pro-Life Protesters
The Thomas More Society represents Houck, several Surgi-Clinic protesters, several Mount Juliet pro-life protesters, and several Michigan pro-life protesters.
“People of faith and pro-life people are not going to get a fair shake out of the Biden administration,” said Peter Breen, the organization’s executive vice president and head of litigation.
The administration has stretched the law to hand pro-lifers the maximum possible sentence, he said.
The Epoch Times reached out to the White House for comment, but did not receive a response.
The FACE Act makes it a crime to use or attempt the use of force, physical obstruction, or intimidation to block access to reproductive services. Normally, a violation of the FACE Act without violence could draw a sentence of up to a year in prison and would be charged as a misdemeanor.
But the Biden administration’s DOJ also has charged pro-life protesters with conspiracy against rights, adding a penalty of up to 10 more years in prison.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
Being convicted of a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, has long-standing consequences that are far more significant.
Convicted felons often lose voting rights permanently. They can’t own guns, so they lose their right to bear arms. They lose the right to serve on a jury. It can also be harder for felons to obtain certain jobs and housing. And felonies have harsher sentences.
Normally, for a conspiracy charge to be a felony, the crime planned by conspirators must be a felony, said Breen. It usually isn’t possible to convict someone of conspiracy felony charges if the crime they conspired to commit was a misdemeanor, he said.
But conspiracy against rights breaks this rule, Breen said. If people conspire against the rights of another person, it counts as a felony, even involving a crime that’s a misdemeanor, he said.
This law can severely punish any group of peaceful protesters who commit misdemeanors involving others’ rights, Breen explained.
In his clients’ cases, those found guilty of conspiring to block access to an abortion clinic would become felons.
“Sit-ins usually involve multiple people chatting and sitting in,” Breen said. “You don’t normally just have one person go and plop themselves down in front of an abortion clinic’s door.”
Because sit-ins or entry-blocking protests usually involve more than one person, conspiracy against rights charges can be used against them, Breen said.
It’s unprecedented to use conspiracy against rights charges to try to send peaceful protesters to prison for more than a decade, Breen said.
“The statute they’re using was intended to stop the Ku Klux Klan,” he said. “It shouldn’t have anything to do with peaceful sit-ins in an abortion clinic.”
Facing the FACE Act
The government usually allows non-violent defendants to present themselves to the justice system, instead of sending agents to arrest them, Breen said.
Even those charged with serious financial crimes often are given the opportunity to turn themselves in, he said.
But many accused of protesting abortion face armed federal agents.
Breen said he doesn’t know of anyone officially offered the option to appear on their own recognizance, instead of facing arrest.
“There was no reason to go and grab them, instead of allowing them to just present themselves,” Breen said.
Houck, Handy, Bukovinac, and Goodman told The Epoch Times they believe they didn’t violate the FACE Act or do anything to deserve charges of conspiracy against rights because they never blocked access to any abortion clinic.
Non-violent crimes, such as creating graffiti, shouldn’t land anyone in prison for a year, Bukovinac said.
Graffiti is used by some pro-abortion activists to damage crisis pregnancy centers, leaving threats and accusations on the sides of the buildings.
In the same way, protesting abortion without violence also shouldn’t lead to prison time, Bukovinac said.
Yet, the FACE Act often has been used as a weapon against the pro-life movement, she said.
“It’s applied almost exclusively throughout history to silence peaceful pro-life activism, and it needs to be repealed,” Bukovinac said.
“It’s completely unfair. It’s ineffective. It makes no sense. It’s unjust. It’s applied in an unfair way.”
Goodman said he suspects the “pro-abortion politics” of the Biden administration drive the harsh sentencing recommendations.
“We’re being treated as enemies of the state,” he said, “because we believe life is sacred.”
No Predawn Raid, No Problem
Will Goodman was the ninth Surgi-Clinic protester arrested by the FBI, 17 months after the conflict.
The FBI couldn’t find him because he’s homeless, technically, and lives on odd jobs. He describes himself as an “activist, who has given up his home for the babies,” or as a “pro-life nomad.”
To follow his passion for defending the unborn, he sleeps on friends’ couches, camps in a tent, stays at a monastery, whatever it takes to stay on the ready.
“If I’m going to rescue, it’s hard to have a regular nine-to-five job when there’s always a chance to get thrown into jail for a week or two. Or a month, or a year,” Goodman said.
A rescue refers to when a pro-life activist tries to intervene at an abortion clinic and persuade a woman from following through on a planned abortion.
In graduate school, Goodman watched a short film about abortion. Since then, he has lived on whatever money he can make to travel from anti-abortion protest to anti-abortion protest.
According to his friend Richard Bonomo, Goodman often gives away the few possessions he has.
“At some point, someone else in the movement needed a car and a cell phone, so he just gave them to them,” Bonomo said.
When the FBI came looking for Goodman, a pair of agents in jeans and flannel knocked on Bonomo’s door in Madison, Wisconsin.
The agents told him not to mention their visit.
“Of course, I’m going to tell him you are here looking for him!” Bonomo said he told the agents.
When Goodman heard the FBI wanted him for questioning, he asked his fellow crusader Moscinski for a ride to the nearest FBI headquarters. It was about 20 minutes away.
Solidarity With The Unborn
Goodman said that when he got in the car, he didn’t know he was facing the possibility of 11 years in prison.
But he was acutely aware that, in the hands of the DOJ, he controlled nothing.
“There’s a sort of spiritual solidarity I have with [the unborn] because I don’t have security and a place to live,” he said.
On the way to the FBI facility, Goodman prayed, thought, and talked of spiritual matters with Moscinski, his priest friend.
“You begin to think, ‘Lord, into your hands, I commend my spirit. I trust you know where you will want me to go,’” Goodman said.
By the end of the day, the FBI had arrested and released Goodman. He still faces the possibility of an 11-year prison sentence. His trial date has not been set yet.
Six months later, Moscinski was arrested and charged with a violation of the FACE Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the eastern district of New York. Fidelis was convicted, and currently awaits sentencing for his role in the Oct. 22, 2020, Washington Surgi-Clinic protest.
Goodman remembers watching the gates of the Yonkers FBI facility close behind him the day he turned himself in.
“What will happen once the federal government takes me into custody?” he remembers wondering. “What will they do with me?”
What started as an effort to protect the unborn has left the activists questioning what the future might hold.
“You feel very small,” Goodman said. “You can be crushed like a bug under a draconian system.”
AND FINALLY, LOVIN’ LIFE…
The Lullaby Project Connects Mothers Behind Bars with Their Babies, Helping Them Write Original Lullabies
Two years ago CBS 58 reported on the partnership between The Lullaby Project and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
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