Clinic business

9 accused of blocking DC reproductive health clinic

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nine people have been charged with federal civil rights violations after driving to the nation’s capital, then blocking access to a reproductive health center and posting it on Facebook, it was announced Wednesday. federal prosecutors.

The charges include violations of a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act, which prohibits physical obstruction or the use of 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 – Lauren Handy, 28, 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 healthcare clinic.” It was unclear from court documents how they met.

In court documents, prosecutors say Handy called the clinic posing as a potential patient and setting up an appointment. Once there, on October 22, 2020, Darnel started a live stream on Facebook as the rest of the group lined up outside the clinic, according to the indictment.

When a worker opened the door for patients, eight of the suspects crept inside and began blocking the doors, and five of them chained themselves to chairs to block off the treatment area, according to sources. court documents. Others blocked employees’ entrance to prevent other patients from entering, while another suspect prevented people from entering the waiting room, the indictment says.

Darnel was streaming the blockade on Facebook and said at one point during the video: “(T)he rescuers are doing their job. They don’t allow women to enter the abortion clinic. As long as they are in there, no woman can enter to kill their children,” according to the indictment.

It was not immediately clear whether the defendants had attorneys who could comment on the allegations. If found guilty, they each face up to a maximum of 11 years in prison.