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Pro-lifers Abused in Prison and Courts

Updated: 5 days ago

'Great Injustice' meted out for protecting unborn babies

From freezing cold prison cells, to denial of necessary medications, to deliberate sleep deprivation and refusal of urgent surgeries, pro-lifers are seeing the FACE law used to abuse them.

A left-wing judge recently completed the sentencing of 10 pro-lifers for peacefully protesting the Washington Surgi-Center in Washington DC. The clinic is run by the infamous late-term abortionist, Cesare Santangelo.

The pro-lifers were convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, known as the FACE Act, that has been weaponized to target the pro-life activists – as was the intention from the outset.

Seventy-five-year-old Paulette Harlow, the last of the ten to be sentenced, was recently slapped with 2 years in federal prison, to be followed by 36 months of supervised release. Harlow is in poor health, and her husband fears she might die there.

After the sentencing, Harlow, a resident of Kingston, Massachusetts, said,

"There was a great injustice with the entire case. The worst part of it was they portrayed us as violent — something the pro-life movement would never be — violent. We especially abhor the violence put upon the young babies that are torn limb from limb. That is the ultimate violence."

Harlow, a Catholic, explained that she became "pro-life" when she saw a photograph of an 18-week-old fetus published in Life magazine in 1965. The photo was taken by the famous Lennart Nilsson, who captured images of the early stages of human life.

Pro-abortion US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who handed down Harlow's sentence, received a B.A. in 1965 from the Catholic University of America and a J.D. in 1968 from Columbus School of Law, also at the CUA.

The Catholic-educated judge mocked the pro-lifer's Catholic faith. After Harlow's husband implored the court for mercy, expressing fear his elderly wife could foreseeably die in prison, the judge taunted that maybe Harlow would "make an effort to remain alive” because that is a “tenet of [her] religion.”

“I feel like Paulette is dying,” her husband said. “In my heart, I think she’s having a hard time staying alive."

Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee, appeared perturbed by the refusals of every pro-lifer to apologize for trying to protect the life of the precious unborn, according to someone who attended the trials. The trial-goer told Souls and Liberty that the judge controlled every aspect of the trials, including jury-selection. "It was a sham and a travesty," she said, "a kangaroo court."

Harlow was convicted in November 2023 along with other defendants: Lauren Handy, John Hinshaw, William Goodman, Jonathan Darnel, Jean Marshall, Joan Bell, Herb Geraghty and Heather Idoni – now all convicted felons. (Jay Smith, who plead guilty, was charged with a violation of the FACE Act.)

The Defend Life organization, covering the persecution of pro-lifers under the FACE Act, has documented the cruel and usual punishment inflicted on pro-lifers.

According to the group's newsletter, during pre-sentencing incarceration, two of the older pro-lifers — Idoni and Marshall – suffered medical and psychological abuse.

Idoni, age 59, who suffered a stroke last month that required three stents for arteries above her heart, was denied medication related to the condition.

She is also diabetic with blood sugar numbers a hundred points higher than normal. She was told that medication for this malady was “not available.”

In April, she was put in solitary confinement for 22 days as punishment for sharing food with another prisoner. During that time, the lights in her cell were on constantly, allowing her little to no sleep.

The temperatures in her cell were kept near 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with her having only one sheet and one blanket.

Marshall, age 74, held in the Alexandria Detention Center, also reported freezing conditions in her cell. She contracted pneumonia and was not treated for three weeks.

Prison officials further did not allow Marshall to keep a previously scheduled appointment for hip surgery to treat osteoarthritis. She was denied home detention.

The US House Pro-Life Caucus Co-Chairmen, Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Andy Harris (R-MD) demanded answers by May 17 from the US Marshall Service and the Bureau of Prisons regarding Idoni’s and Marshall’s situations. To date, there has been no reply.

The FACE Act prohibits, according to a DOJ website, “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”


Sponsored by "Catholic" Sen. Ted Kennedy and passed in 1994 during the Clinton era, it was written to prosecute "crimes" at abortion clinics, pro-life pregnancy facilities and places of religious worship. Despite the expanse of its protection, it has been used almost exclusively against pro-lifers.

This double standard of justice has not gone unnoticed.

Last month, US Congressman John H. Rutherford (R-FL-05) sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland to highlight the DOJ's failure to fairly enforce the FACE Act in response to attacks against pregnancy centers and places of worship.

Rutherford ripped into Garland's hypocrisy, urging the Justice Department to apply the FACE Act equally:

“The Justice Department has failed to prosecute a single act of violence against places of religious worship under the FACE Act,” said Rutherford. “In fact, only five individuals have been prosecuted under the FACE Act for attacking pro-life pregnancy centers, while the Justice Department actively prosecutes numerous protests outside of abortion clinics."

Marilyn Musgrave, Vice President of Government Affairs at SBA [Susan B. Anthony] Pro-Life America, buttressed the Florida lawmaker's letter, saying:

"President Biden’s Department of Justice is using the FACE Act to target and prosecute peaceful pro-life protesters and people of faith, while failing to investigate the numerous attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches across America since the leak of the Dobbs decision." 

Hinshaw, who like Harlow was also sentenced in May, gave a heart-wrenching declaration before his sentencing. It is, in part,

"So all the years of court-protected slaughter have led us here, where I stand convicted, though guiltless. SENT, as I am, to take upon myself the guilt of this court. I stand here for Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, to accept the punishment rightly hers. ... And as I open my arms to plead the mercy of this court on Kollar-Kotelly, I ask the One True Judge, Whom she and I will be seeing very soon, to accept my act of love toward her as expiation of her great guilt of pride, indifference, and intolerance."

The Thomas More Society is planning appeals of these sentences.

Dr. Barbara Toth has a doctorate in rhetoric and composition from Bowling Green State University. She has taught at universities in the US, China and Saudi Arabia. Her work in setting up a writing center at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahmen University, an all-women's university in Riyadh, has been cited in American journals. Toth has published academic and non-academic articles and poems internationally.

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I am reminded of the tortuous conditions that were applied specifically to priests in the Nazi concentration camps. These persecutions against these good and brave Christians are not because of what they did, but because of who and what they are.

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