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The Latest Lawfare Against the Pro-Life Cause

This week’s FACE Act convictions aren’t just about abortion, but free speech. Some ask: has anarcho-tyranny come to America? 

Anti-abortion campaigners celebrate outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 24, 2022. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

“How is it that my granddaughter is a treasure, and the others are trash?” Such was the question posed by John Hinshaw, an elderly pro-life activist in a statement he gave Tuesday after being sentenced to nearly two years of prison for protesting the murder of five infants at an abortion clinic in Washington D.C. three years ago. 

This punishment isn’t simply unjust; it’s brutal. Today, it’s a person who protests abortion; tomorrow, it will be people who protest lockdowns, censorship, or unlawful confiscation of property. This isn’t just a slippery slope, but a basic application of the federal government’s guiding logic. 


He wasn’t alone. Eight other pro-life activists (who are also senior citizens) have also been given prison time for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. One of them, Lauren Handy, was sentenced to 57 months (nearly 5 years) of prison and three years of probation afterward. 

Even as they were awaiting their sentence, Lifesite News has reported that “several of the prisoners have already suffered serious mistreatment that meets the definition of torture both according to American law and international standards.” One mother, 59 and “a mother of five and adopted mother of 10,” was put in solitary confinement for over 22 days, regularly deprived of sleep, and “forced to appear in full shackles in federal court.” Another woman, 74, was given inadequate clothing and heat in jail and caught pneumonia “which went untreated for three weeks.” She was also denied “urgently needed hip surgery” which resulted in ”excruciating pain and debilitating use of her right leg.”

And what is that guiding logic exactly? It begins with the crime at hand: the murder, mutilation, and inhumane disposal of at least five newborn children. In 2020, “Handy and her co-defendants discovered the bodies of five later-term aborted babies outside the Washington Surgi-Clinic, operated by late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo.” By most accounts, these were babies who were born alive and entitled to care, but were instead drowned, dismembered, and/or bludgeoned to death. Allegedly, there were hundreds more infants who suffered this fate.

At the moment, Santangelo and his clinic have suffered no repercussions for these crimes. It’s worth remembering that less than 10 years before, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of first-degree murder for essentially doing the same thing as Santangelo is doing now. What was once a horrific atrocity to be condemned is now a public service to be sanctioned and protected.

The prospect of so much outrage over abortion was something the Biden administration wanted to smother at all costs. So of course the courts threw the book at these people, just as happened with the January 6 protesters. It matters little that this amounts to political persecution. From the perspective of the federal government, Americans simply need to understand that their rights (particularly their right to free speech) and privileges (like banking and posting on social media) are contingent on their conformity with the regime. 

The draconian sentencing of pro-life activists should bother Americans even as a practical matter. Rather than keep the peace and uphold law and order, our justice system is busy going after geriatric, nonviolent individuals who want to save babies. While cities across the nation, including the capital, succumb to prolific crime, federal law enforcement and their respective courts are spending tens of millions in taxpayer dollars for punishing political antagonists.

Rather, the federal government could have saved time and money by actually doing its job. They could have investigated the abortion clinic that was breaking the law, charged the abortionists with murder, and saved future victims. This would have been more straightforward and cost-effective than haling so many protesters into court and throwing them in jail. After all, are they really going to keep doing this with every other protester that has qualms about an obvious evil happening in their midst? Don’t courts already have a terrible backlog, and aren’t the prisons overcrowded?

This is no even-handed defense of events here.