DC woman in whose home 5 fetuses were found appears in federal court on conspiracy, obstruction

A federal magistrate judge alluded to news coverage that five fetuses were found in the home of Lauren Handy, but ordered she remain free, with conditions, Monday until her trial for conspiracy against rights and abortion clinic access obstruction.

Handy was one of nine charged on March 30 with federal civil rights offenses for an October 2020 incident in which she and eight other activists against abortion rights allegedly barged into the clinic and blocked the doors. Handy made an appointment under a fake name, court documents say.

Last Wednesday, five fetuses were found in Handy’s home near Capitol Hill.

During Monday’s brief hearing in federal court, Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui acknowledged “things came out outside the courtroom,” seemingly referring to news coverage of the discovery of the fetuses in Handy’s home.

D.C. police said they found the fetuses after they got a tip regarding potential biohazard material.

Despite the startling find, Faruqui said he was “bound by the federal format” and had “limited visibility” beyond the federal charges, which don’t mention the fetuses.

“Miss Handy has been compliant with the conditions,” which include not being present at any abortion clinic, said Faruqui. “Please continue to follow the conditions of release,” he said to Handy, who appeared by video.

WTOP learned last week that Handy had been charged in a similar incident at the same clinic in 2019.

Prosecutor Molly Gaston and federal public defender Mary Petras offered no challenges to the judge’s ruling.

Executive Assistant Chief Ashan Benedict, of the D.C. police, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that the fetuses found at Hardy’s house “were aborted in accordance with D.C. law. So we are not investigating this incident along those lines.”

Handy hasn’t been charged in connection with the fetuses. Benedict said there “doesn’t (appear to) be anything criminal in nature right now about that, except for how they got into this house. And so we’re continuing to look at that.”

As of Monday, D.C. police told WTOP the investigation into the presence of the fetuses in Handy’s home is ongoing.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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