Pro-life activist Lauren Handy has been sentenced on Justice Department charges to almost five years in prison for attempting to stop abortions of unborn babies from taking place at a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic.

Handy will spend 57 months in prison and is the first person sentenced for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a 1994 law that supposedly protects both abortion clinics and pregnancy resource centers, but has been heavily enforced by President Joe Biden’s DOJ against pro-lifers since the June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Those efforts are led by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, who just admitted following a report from The Daily Signal that she hid an arrest and its subsequent expungement from investigators when she was confirmed to her Justice Department post.

The president’s critics have accused Biden and the DOJ of weaponizing the FACE Act against pro-lifers while failing to charge pro-abortion criminals for the hundreds of attacks on pregnancy resource centers since the May 2022 leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion indicating Roe would soon be overturned.

Some, among them Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, have called for the repeal of the FACE Act.

“Today’s outrageous 57-month sentence for a progressive pro-life activist is a stark reminder: Biden’s DOJ is fully weaponized against pro-life American citizens, and they are using the FACE Act to do it,” said Roy in a statement following Handy’s sentence. “House Republicans should defund the DOJ weaponization, repeal the FACE Act, and stand up for the freedoms that we campaign on.”

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly told Handy, according to The Washington Post, that “the law does not protect violence or obstructive conduct—nor should it. That’s what you’re being punished for; not your views on abortion, nor your very American commitment to peaceful protest.”

Handy is being represented by lawyers with the Thomas More Society, which said Tuesday that it is preparing to proceed with an appeal seeking to overturn her conviction and challenge the constitutionality of the FACE Act.

A Washington, D.C., jury had convicted Handy on Aug. 29, 2023, on charges of violating both the FACE Act and “conspiracy against rights” brought by the Biden DOJ against her and a number of other pro-life activists related to a “rescue” they performed at a D.C. abortion clinic, the Washington Surgi-Clinic.

Thomas More Society lawyers had asked the court to show leniency toward Handy with a 12-month sentence, while the Biden DOJ had requested a sentence up to six-and-a-half years.

“There was only one thing around which Ms. Handy and her co-defendants were unified, and that was nonviolence,” said Martin Cannon, Thomas More Society senior counsel, in a statement on Tuesday. “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,” he added. “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.”

Steve Crampton, who is also senior counsel with the Thomas More Society, called Handy’s sentence 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,” he said in a statement. “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 many downtrodden throughout her young life.”

Handy is a member of the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a pro-life group made up of activists with more unusual backgrounds than one might expect—including atheism, transgenderism, and more.

In March 2022, Handy and colleague Terrisa Bukovinac discovered the bodies of five preemie-sized aborted babies’ bodies in a box of fetal remains outside the Foggy Bottom-based abortion facility. That box also contained over a hundred pulverized remains of first-trimester babies, they said.

Pro-life activists believe the babies’ bodies are evidence that a D.C. abortionist was performing illegal abortions, but for two years now, D.C. authorities have stonewalled any questions about the babies’ deaths.

Handy has said that she was motivated to stop abortions from occurring inside Washington Surgi-Clinic after she viewed an undercover video published by the pro-life group Live Action that allegedly showed abortionist Cesare Santangelo discussing how he would allow babies to die if they were accidentally delivered during abortions.

The District does not have any laws that regulate how late during pregnancy a baby can be aborted. So when the babies’ bodies were originally brought to light, D.C. police shrugged off the matter. 

Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant chief of police, went so far as to tell reporters in April 2022 that the babies appeared to have been aborted “in accordance with D.C. law.” 

Police have repeatedly told The Daily Signal since then that the case is still “under investigation.” Authorities will not share whether autopsies have been performed on the babies’ remains, though the D.C. Medical Examiner said in February that it would not immediately destroy the babies’ bodies after a slew of lawmakers demanded that they be preserved.

The mayor’s office has completely stonewalled questions about the babies. Even the office of the chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia directs queries to the mayor’s office—specifically, to Dora Taylor-Lowe, who refused to answer The Daily Signal’s requests for comment. 

It remains unclear whether autopsies have been performed on the bodies of the five babies, whose bodies were photographed by Bukovinac. (Warning: These images are graphic and disturbing.)

And though D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser refused to address the possibility that Santangelo was criminally aborting late-term babies in the nation’s capital, she did accuse Handy of “tampering with fetal remains” in an April 2022 letter to Republican lawmakers highlighting that Handy herself faced FACE Act charges for blocking the entrance to a D.C. abortion clinic in October 2020.

Handy’s involvement in the discovery of the remains, as well as her participation in the October 2020 “blockade,” according to Bowser, are potentially “serious violations of federal law.”