Jury convicts 5 people of blocking access to DC reproductive health clinic

FILE - Anti-abortion activists Lauren Handy, front, with Terrisa Bukovinac, from left, Jonathan Darnell, and Randall Terry, speak during a news conference in Washington, April 5, 2022. Five anti-abortion activists, including Handy, a woman who was discovered to have five fetuses in her home, were convicted Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, of illegally blocking a reproductive clinic in Washington, The Washington Post reported. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Five people face years in prison and hefty fines after they were convicted of blocking people from entering a reproductive clinic in D.C.

Lauren Handy, 28, of Alexandria, Virginia; John Hinshaw, 67, of New York; Heather Idoni, 61, of Michigan; William Goodman, 52, of New York; and Herb Geraghty, 25, of Pittsburgh, could spend a maximum of 11 years in prison and a fine of up to $350,000. They were each convicted of a felony conspiracy and a Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act offense.

The FACE Act prohibits physically obstructing or using the threat of force to intimidate or interfere with a person seeking reproductive health services.

A Justice Department news release said that the five people “engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services.” They will be sentenced at a later date.

Ten people, including the five convicted Tuesday, are said to have been involved in the blockade that happened at the Washington Surgi-Clinic in October 2020.

Handy, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Geraghty went to D.C. to meet with Handy to take part in the incident, which was then broadcast on Facebook.

“Handy, Hinshaw, Idoni, and Goodman forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes,” the Justice Department said.

The five are linked to an anti-abortion group called Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, in which Handy was the director. The group held a news conference outside the federal courthouse in D.C. protesting the verdict amid shouts of “Long live rescue,” while a single abortion-rights supporter chanted “Abortion is health care.”

In March 2022, D.C. police found five fetuses inside Handy’s Capitol Hill home. Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising said that the five fetuses came from the medical waste being disposed by a D.C. abortion clinic, and that it had called police to get the fetuses in hopes that “an autopsy would prove that the clinic was conducting federally illegal late-stage abortions,” The Associated Press reported. D.C. police said that the fetuses “appeared to have been aborted ‘in accordance with D.C. law.'”

In March 2019, Handy was one of three people charged with unlawful entry at a reproductive health clinic in Northwest. Handy was also sentenced to 30 days in jail by after pleading guilty to trespassing in 2021 at an Alexandria, Virginia, women’s health clinic.

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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