Biden Admin Pushes Severe Penalties for Blocking Abortion Clinics

( – The Biden administration continues pushing for severe penalties for those who block access to abortion clinics.

The latest example is Paulette Harlow, 75, sentenced to serve two years in prison for blocking access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in October 2020. Harlow’s husband, John, requested her age and reportedly declining health be taken into consideration during her sentencing. However, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly responded that Harlow should “make every effort to remain alive…because that is part of the tenets of your religion.” According to prosecutors, Harlow and nine other defendants used their bodies, chains, ropes, and furniture to block the clinic doors.

The organizer of the protest, Lauren Handy, received a 57-month prison sentence, a sentence similar to one given to a man from Hawaii who allegedly defrauded 42 investors out of $1.2 million. Kollar-Kotelly stated Handy was not being punished for the protest but for her violent and “obstructive conduct.” Jonathan Darnel, who co-organized and live-streamed the event, was sentenced to serve 34 months in prison.

According to the founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, Lila Rose, the sentences were too severe for the group’s actions.

Harlow and the other defendants were charged with violation of the 1994 law Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes interfering with someone seeking to “obtain, or provide reproductive health services” by engaging in “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct” a federal crime. Prosecutors also charged the defendants with conspiracy against rights, another federal offense that makes it a crime “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate” someone exercising a constitutional or legal right. By charging the defendants with the two federal crimes, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was able to secure sentences that were not proportionate to the crime committed.

The use of such laws as the FACE Act to enhance sentences by the Biden administration is in contrast to the Trump administration, who, according to abortion rights supporters such as Florida State University College of Law professor Mary Ziegler, did not use the FACE Act, which encouraged more aggressive behavior outside abortion clinics.

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