An anti-abortion activist says a funeral and "naming ceremony" were held for the five fetuses D.C. police said they discovered inside her Capitol Hill apartment.
Officers went to 28-year-old Lauren Handy's basement apartment in the 400 block of 6th Street SE on Wednesday afternoon to investigate a tip about potential bio-hazard material at the house, the Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement.
"What we're seeing now is those fetuses were aborted in accordance with D.C. law," Metropolitan Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Ashan Benedict said Thursday.
The medical examiner's office collected the fetuses, and police are investigating, the department told News4. No further information was available about the fetuses, including where they came from.
Handy is one of nine anti-abortion activists who were charged Wednesday with federal civil rights offenses after they blocked access to a reproductive health center and streamed it on Facebook, federal prosecutors said.
In a statement on her Facebook page, Handy said the fetuses were named and given a funeral mass. The statement says the group informed police about the location of the fetuses. They also said there are other fetuses that were not turned over to police, and anti-abortion activists will hold a news conference on Tuesday to answer questions.
"Lauren Handy is well-known to us. She has been protesting at our 4th Street facility, and prior to that at our location on 16th Street, and her behavior is extreme," Laura Meyers, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, said in a video interview with News4.
The charges against Handy and the eight other activists include violations of a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or the FACE Act, which prohibits physically obstructing or using the threat of force to intimidate or interfere with a person seeking reproductive health services. The law also prohibits damaging property at abortion clinics and other reproductive health centers.
The nine – Handy, and Jonathan Darnel, 40, of Virginia; Jay Smith, 32, and John Hinshaw, 67, and William Goodman, 52, of New York; Joan Bell, 73, of New Jersey; Paulette Harlow, 73, Jean Marshall, 72, of Massachusetts; and Heather Idoni, 61, of Michigan – also face a charge of conspiracy against rights.
Prosecutors allege the group “engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic.” It was unclear, from court papers, how they met.
In court documents, prosecutors say Handy called the clinic pretending to be a prospective patient and scheduling an appointment. Once there, on Oct. 22, 2020, Darnel started a live feed on Facebook as the rest of the group lined up outside the clinic, the indictment says.
When a worker opened the door for patients, eight of the suspects pushed their way inside and began blocking the doors, and five of them chained themselves together on chairs to block the treatment area, according to court papers. Others blocked the employee entrance to stop other patients from coming inside, while another suspect blocked people from coming into the waiting room, the indictment states.
Darnel was broadcasting the blockade on Facebook and at one point said during the video, “(T)he rescuers are doing their job. They’re not allowing women to enter the abortion clinic. As long as they’re in there, no women can go in to kill their children,” according to the indictment.
It was not immediately clear if the defendants have attorneys who could comment on the allegations. If convicted, they each face up to a maximum of 11 years in prison.
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