3 Pro-Life Advocates Involved In Abortion Clinic Barricade Convicted On FACE Act Charges
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Three pro-life advocates face more than a decade in prison after a federal jury convicted them on Friday for conspiring to barricade themselves in a Washington, D.C.-based abortion clinic in 2020.

The defendants – Jonathan Darnel, 41, of Arlington, Va.; Jean Marshall, 73, of Kingston, Mass.; and Joan Bell, 74, of Montague, NJ – were each convicted of a felony conspiracy against rights and a Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act offense for “forcefully” entering and “blockading two clinic doors” at the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2020, according to a Justice Department news release.

The defendants were part of a group of ten pro-life advocates who were arrested and indicted for allegedly violating the FACE Act, which makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing an abortion and other reproductive services.

“I am definitely not guilty of the charges leveled against me, which is rather ironic that I should find myself in this position,” Darnel told Fox News Digital in an interview earlier this month. “Nevertheless, if a jury finds me guilty of FACE even erroneously, it would be an honor because the kids are worthy of protection.”

The Department of Justice said trial evidence showed the defendants conspired to create a blockage at the clinic to prevent “patients from receiving reproductive health services.”

Authorities said Marshall and Bell had traveled to the Washington, D.C. area to meet with Darnel to form the barricade and had broadcast the demonstration on Facebook at the direction of a co-conspirator.

“Marshall and Bell were among a group that forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes,” authorities said. “Once the blockade was established, Darnel – who remained outside the clinic — live-streamed their activities on social media.”

In a published video of the demonstration, the pro-life advocates can be seen praying and singing inside the abortion clinic and refusing to leave.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who presided over the trial, reportedly refused to allow the video as evidence and argued their actions were not protected under the First Amendment.

Kollar-Kotelly, who President Bill Clinton appointed in 1997, ordered the defendants immediately into custody.

A sentencing date is yet to be scheduled.

Each faces up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000.


Caroline Taylor Smith, executive director of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), told LifeNews that the charges against the advocates were excessive because the demonstrations were nonviolent.

“This overreaching of power and authority by Biden’s DOJ is egregious and must be stopped. Nonviolent prolife actions should not be a federal crime, and peaceful people with a desire to save lives should not be jailed for over a decade. Some of these Rescuers could be facing death by incarceration. We must repeal the FACE Act now!” Smith said.

Five other pro-life advocates involved in the demonstration were found guilty in August on the same counts. Another co-defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to ten months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release, according to authorities.

The clinic has been embroiled in controversy. Posing as a woman who wished to obtain a late-term abortion, a Live Action investigator visited Washington Surgi-Clinic in January 2022 and reported concerning comments and practices. In late March 2022, authorities were called to the home of a pro-life activist — Lauren Handy of PAAU — to recover the bodies of five premie-sized aborted babies. PAAU activists told The Daily Wire at the time that they had intercepted a box of aborted babies that was on its way from Washington Surgi Clinic to Curtis Bay Medical Waste Facility to be incinerated.

A Curtis Bay spokesman has insisted to The Daily Wire that this never happened and that the waste facility does not dispose of fetal remains.

Mary Margaret Olohan contributed to this report.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  3 Pro-Life Advocates Involved In Abortion Clinic Barricade Convicted On FACE Act Charges