5 fetuses removed from home of anti-abortion activist, group says

Police said Thursday that five fetuses were removed from a home in Washington that an anti-abortion group said belonged to an activist who was charged by the Justice Department this week with blocking access to an abortion clinic in October 2020.

The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department would only release the address where the fetuses were found. Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, confirmed the home belongs to Lauren Handy, 28, the group’s director of activism, who was arrested and charged with federal civil rights violations this week. .

“It’s his apartment,” Ms Bukovinac said, adding the band would have more to say at a press conference on Tuesday. “We will definitely reveal all the details on Tuesday, and they are explosive,” Ms Bukovinac said.

Ms. Handy and Mary Petras, the attorney representing her in the federal case, did not immediately respond to emails.

But in a statement on Friday, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising said one of those charged was trying to turn the fetuses over to police for investigation. The group said they were at “their late gestational age” and in a condition that showed possible violations of the federal partial abortion law, which prohibits certain medical procedures in late pregnancy. The group also said a funeral mass and a “baptism ceremony” took place. District of Columbia police declined to comment.

WUSA TV reported it had a camera outside Ms Handy’s home on Wednesday when homicide and forensic detectives removed evidence in red biohazard bags and coolers from the basement. Ms Handy declined to say what was in the coolers, but said ‘people would freak out when they heard it’, WUSA reported.

Police said they attended the home around 12.30pm on Wednesday to investigate a report of “potential biohazard material” when officers found the fetuses inside. The fetuses have been recovered by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, police said, and an investigation is ongoing. No charges have been announced in connection with the discovery.

The fetuses “were aborted under DC law, so we are not investigating this incident along those lines,” Deputy Chief of Police Ashan M. Benedict said Thursday at a news conference.

“There doesn’t appear to be anything criminal in nature at this time except how they got into that house,” Chief Benedict said, “so we will continue to look into that.”

In a two-count indictment announced by the Department of Justice on Wednesday, Ms Handy was charged with leading eight other people who used their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes to block the doors of an abortion clinic in Washington on October 22, 2020 — an action that one of them streamed live on Facebook.

The clinic was not identified in court documents, although Ms Bukovinac said it was the Washington Surgi-Clinic.

The nine defendants were charged with participating in a conspiracy to prevent the clinic from providing reproductive health services and to prevent patients from receiving those services, prosecutors said.

They were also charged with breaching the Free Entry to Clinics Act 1994, which makes it a crime to threaten, obstruct or injure a person seeking access to a reproductive health clinic. or damage clinic property.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland had signaled in September that the Justice Department would use the FACE Act to protect the constitutional right to abortion, days after a Texas law enacting a near-comprehensive ban took effect. of the procedure.

If convicted, the defendants each face up to 11 years in prison, three years of probation and fines of $350,000, prosecutors said.

Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising seeks to mobilize anti-abortion activists for “direct action”, according to its website.

After the charges were announced on Wednesday, Ms Bukovinac said: “Rescuers like Lauren and the other eight defendants are inspiring a whole new generation of leaders and activists to overcome their fears of sanctions and take heroic direct action on behalf of the world.” unborn child. ”

Ms Handy founded a group called Mercy Missions, according to a 2017 report from EWTN, a Catholic TV station, which said she had an out-of-control lifestyle before friends brought her to pray outside a clinic. ‘abortion.

She said she knew she could “no longer have a normal life knowing that babies were being systematically killed”.

She dropped out of college and began working full-time in the anti-abortion movement and eventually converted to Catholicism, EWTN reported. She described distributing flyers outside abortion clinics and trying to persuade women not to enter. She said she had been arrested five times.

“It’s really humbling to know that God has used me in this way,” Ms Handy told the network.

About Michael S. Montanez

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