UNITED STATES v. HANDY: Defending Lauren Handy Against the Biden Department of Justice
August 28, 2023
UPDATE 8/29: A Washington, D.C. jury has found Lauren and her co-defendants guilty on all counts.
STATEMENT FROM MARTIN CANNON, THOMAS MORE SOCIETY SENIOR COUNSEL: “We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome. Ms. Handy has been condemned for her efforts to protect the lives of innocent preborn human beings. We are preparing an appeal and will continue to defend those who fight for life against a Biden Department of Justice that seems intent on prosecuting those who decry abortion and present it as it is—the intentional killing of children in utero.”
STATEMENT FROM STEVE CRAMPTON, THOMAS MORE SOCIETY SENIOR COUNSEL: “In an unexpected twist, the Court found that because the violation of FACE—in this case—was a crime of ‘violence,’ all five defendants must be immediately incarcerated. So, the defendants were led out of the courtroom by an army of U.S. Marshals. This is an outrage, and the one thing the defendants had really agreed upon was to remain non-violent. The real violence is what happens during the abortion procedure.”
Defending Lauren Handy in United States of America v. Handy, et al.
Thomas More Society is defending pro-life activist Lauren Handy in the federal criminal case United States of America v. Handy, et al.
On October 22, 2020, Lauren Handy and a host of other pro-life advocates participated in a rescue and protest at the abortion facility of notorious late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo. Some simply kneeled and prayed at Santangelo’s facility, some passed out pro-life literature and counseled abortion-minded women, and others roped and chained themselves together inside the facility.
In March 2022, years after the rescue and protest at Santangelo’s facility, Lauren and several others were charged by the Biden Department of Justice with one count of “Conspiracy Against Rights” and a one count of “Clinic Access Obstruction,” in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE. As part of the Department of Justice’s push to prosecute FACE cases, Lauren and her co-defendants in this trial are facing up to 11 years in federal prison if found guilty.
Santangelo’s Washington-Surgi facility in Washington, D.C. has long been the subject of controversy and suspicion, with reason to believe that the late-term abortionist was leaving born-alive infants without care. This is integral to understanding Lauren’s motive that day in October 2020.
In 2013, Lauren viewed an undercover video published by Live Action, exposing Santangelo. That video left a lasting impact on her and ignited her passion for pro-life advocacy. She quit college, moved across the country, and dedicated her life’s work to advocating against abortion. Lauren could never forget the grim reality she had seen and heard on that undercover video, and the horrible live-birth abortions—i.e., the refusal of care after the child survives an abortion—she reasonably believes occur inside Santangelo’s abortion facility.
Three days after first seeing that video in 2013, she took a four-hour train ride to attend a press conference hosted by Live Action in front of Santangelo’s facility. Martin Cannon— Lauren’s attorney and Thomas More Society Senior Counsel—asked her, “Now, when you were talking to your friends about your plan to skip the finals and head to the press conference, what was their response?” Lauren responded, “[T]hey didn't understand the urgency that I was feeling… I told them I had to be there. I had to go to the place where the video took place.”
“That video utterly convinced her that at the clinic in question here babies were being born alive and left to die. Nobody in this courtroom, not the government, not the judge, is going to tell you that such a thing is legal; that such a thing is reproductive health care; or that such a thing is protected by the statute under which our clients are charged.”
Lauren took the stand on August 22, telling the jury, “My belief that was formed after watching the video was… if the fetus survived the abortion attempt, they were left to die” at Santangelo’s facility. In gripping testimony on the stand, Lauren became visibly moved while recalling the emotional impact of that video.
For that reason, she organized the October 2020 rescue at Santangelo’s facility—intending that the actions undertaken on that day would prevent the gruesome and illegal practice of live-birth abortions, which she reasonably suspected were taking place at the facility. Indeed, during the rescue, Lauren testified that she personally handed out flyers specifically asserting her belief that live-birth abortions were occurring in Santangelo’s facility. Contrary to what the federal government’s prosecution attempted to argue, Lauren was there to prevent the horror of live-birth abortions—which is not a violation of the FACE Act.
“In Lauren's mind, any person who she can convince not to go into that clinic is a person whose baby is not going to be born alive and left to die,” Cannon told the jury.
The Department of Justice’s prosecution also focused on branding Lauren as the leader of a criminal conspiracy, a conspiracy to violate the FACE Act. But in his closing argument, Cannon put into clear view how flimsy the federal government’s argument is:
“How do you have a conspiracy to violate FACE when everyone is told to just follow his conscience; when people are told to risk arrest or don't risk arrest? It's up to you. How do you have a conspiracy to violate FACE when the performance of the so-called agreement could result in everybody blocking or nobody blocking? There was only one thing around which these people were unified, and that was nonviolence. They conspired to be peaceful.”
Cannon closed with an appeal to the jury: “You are the trunk. Every one of those three branches gets its authority from you… Nothing happens to Ms. Handy or any of these other defendants unless you feel it is just; every one of you; every single one of you.”
The jury began deliberations on Friday, August 25 and no verdict has yet been returned.
Watch Martin Cannon of Thomas More Society give a post-trial reaction from outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C.: