Nine charged for blocking access to reproductive health care clinic

A 74-year-old New Jersey woman was among nine people charged with federal civil rights offenses after they traveled to the nation’s capital and then blocked access to a reproductive health care clinic.

Joan Bell, 74, of Montague, New Jersey, was charged with federal civil rights offenses in connection with an alleged reproductive health care clinic invasion in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22, 2020.

The group of anti-abortion activists people were charged with federal civil rights violations for blocking access to a reproductive health clinic in Washington, D.C.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division also filed a two-count indictment charging Lauren Handy, 28, of Alexandria, Virginia; Jonathan Darnel, 40, of Arlington, Virginia, Jay Smith, 32, of Freeport, New York; Paulette Harlow, 73, of Kingston, Massachusetts; Jean Marshall, 72, of Kingston, Massachusetts; John Hinshaw, 67, of Levittown, New York; Heather Idoni, 61, of Linden, Michigan; and William Goodman, 52, of Bronx, New York. The defendants were charged with conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia, alleges that the nine defendants engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services.

The arrest of Joan Bell and her co-conspirators was live-streamed on Facebook.

According to the indictment, as part of the conspiracy, Smith, Harlow, Marshall, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Bell traveled to Washington, D.C. from various northeast and midwestern states, to participate in a clinic blockade that was directed by Handy and was broadcast on Facebook by Darnel.

According to the indictment, Handy, Smith, Harlow, Marshall, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Bell forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes.

Once the blockade was established, Darnel live-streamed footage of his co-defendants’ activities.

The indictment also alleges that the nine defendants violated the FACE Act by using a physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient, because they were providing or obtaining reproductive health services.

If convicted of the offenses, the defendants each face up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000.

Five fetuses were discovered in the Washington, D.C., home of Handy, one of the anti-abortion activists who was criminally charged with storming a reproductive health clinic.

Police investigating a tip about “potential bio-hazard material” found the five fetuses in the home on the 400 block of 6th Street, South East, on Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

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