Federal Court Sentences 75-Year-Old Pro-Life Protester To Two Years In Prison For Role In Abortion Clinic Blockade

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Remso Martinez Contributor
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Pro-life activist Paulette Harlow, 75, from Kingston, Massachusetts, has been sentenced to 24 months in prison for her role in a 2020 blockade at a Washington, D.C. abortion clinic, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Harlow was convicted under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and for felony conspiracy following a non-jury trial overseen by Judge Colleen Collar-Kotelly, according to a DOJ press release.

The court found that Harlow, along with nine co-defendants, participated in an organized effort to obstruct access to the clinic, the press release reads. The group of activists, led by organizer Lauren Handy, forcefully entered the facility, using their bodies, chains, furniture and ropes to block entrances. Their actions were live-streamed on social media, which was used as evidence.

The FACE Act “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services,” according to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

The judge emphasized to Handy that she had been convicted based on her actions, not her pro-life beliefs, The Associated Press (AP) reported. The DOJ highlighted that the defendants’ actions fell under the FACE Act because they acted in a manner that hurt, menaced and interfered with clinic staff and patients, the press release reads. (RELATED: Texas Supreme Court Rejects Challenge To Abortion Law)

Harlow currently suffers from diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease and severe back pain that requires the use of a wheelchair, according to The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. Harlow’s attorney, Allen Orenberg, appealed to the judge for leniency due to her fragile health, according to LiveAction. Her husband, John Harlow reportedly also spoke during her trial, delivering a statement on his wife’s behalf.

“I feel like Paulette is dying,” John Harlow said before the court, the outlet reported. “In my heart, I think she’s having a hard time staying alive.”

Despite these appeals, the court sentenced her to two years in prison, reportedly allowing her to remain on house arrest until a suitable federal facility is found.

The sentencing follows similar penalties for her co-defendants. Handy received nearly five years in prison, the Daily Caller learned. Others, including Heather Idoni, William Goodman and John Hinshaw, received sentences ranging from 21 to 27 months, according to the DOJ. Jay Smith, who pleaded guilty, received a 10-month sentence.