Police said on Thursday that five fetuses had been removed from a Washington home that an anti-abortion group said belonged to an activist this week accused by the Justice Department of blocking access to an abortion clinic in October 2020.
The District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department would only release the address where the fetuses were found. Terrisa Bukovinac, the founder and executive director of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, confirmed that the house belonged to Lauren Handy, 28, the group’s activism director, who was arrested this week and charged with federal civil rights violations.
“It’s her apartment,” Ms Bukovinac said, adding that the group would have more to say at a press conference on Tuesday. “We are definitely going to 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.
WUSA television station reported that it had a camera outside Ms. Handy’s home on Wednesday as homicide and forensic officers removed evidence in red bags containing biohazardous material and coolers from the basement. Ms. Handy declined to say what was in the coolers, but said “people would freak out if they heard about it,” WUSA reported.
Police said they went to the home around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to investigate a tip about “potentially biohazardous material” when officers found the fetuses inside. The fetuses were collected by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, police said, and the investigation continued. No charges have been released in connection with the discovery.
The fetuses “were aborted in accordance with DC law, so we are not investigating this incident to that effect,” Ashan M. Benedict, the police’s executive assistant chief, said at a news conference Thursday.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything criminal going on at this point other than how they got into this house,” Chef Benedict said, “so we’ll continue to look into that.”
In a two-count indictment announced Wednesday by the Department of Justice, Ms. Handy was charged with leading eight other people who used their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes to open the doors of an abortion clinic in Washington on Oct. 22, 2020. to block. — a promotion that one of them livestreamed 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 violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, a 1994 law that makes it a crime to threaten, harass, or injure a person seeking access to a reproductive health clinic or to steal clinic property. to damage.
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 that almost completely banned the procedure went into effect.
The state of abortion in the US
If convicted, the defendants face up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release and $350,000 in fines, prosecutors said.
Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising seeks to mobilize anti-abortion activists for “immediate action,” according to its website.
After the indictment was announced Wednesday, Ms. Bukovinac said: “Relief workers like Lauren and the other eight defendants are inspiring a whole new generation of leaders and activists to overcome their fear of sanctions and take heroic direct action on behalf of the unborn.”
Ms. Handy founded a group called Mercy Missions, according to a 2017 report from EWTN, a Catholic television network, that said she had a spiraling lifestyle before friends took her outside an abortion clinic to pray.
She said she knew she could “no longer lead a normal life knowing that babies were being systematically killed”.
She dropped out of college and started working full-time in the anti-abortion movement, eventually converting to Catholicism, EWTN reported. She described handing out flyers outside abortion clinics and trying to persuade women not to go inside. She said she had been arrested five times.
“It’s really humbling to know that God has used me that way,” Ms Handy told the network.