A pro-life activist has been making headlines for the past week after authorities recovered the bodies of five unborn babies from inside her apartment.
But the story surrounding Lauren Handy, 28, is anything but clear-cut. More questions than answers remained after her unrelated arrest, and a press conference Tuesday featuring Handy only partially helped clear things up. Here are the known facts at this point.
Handy, a pro-life activist with Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), was arrested and charged last Wednesday — but the allegations that led to her arrest were from a situation completely unrelated to the fetal findings.
Still, some media outlets seemed to conflate — whether intentional or not — the discovery of babies’ bodies with the separate incident, despite the fact that there are currently no pending charges in the fetal scenario.
WHY Was Handy Indicted?
Handy pleaded not guilty Monday after she was among nine people indicted last week over claims she violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act during a protest back in 2020. This 1994 law punishes acts aimed at obstructing clinic access.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office put out a statement detailing the complaints against Handy and eight others, accusing the group of a purported “health care clinic invasion.”
“Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia today announced a two-count indictment charging [them] with federal civil rights offenses in connection with an alleged reproductive health care clinic invasion in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22, 2020,” the release reads.
It continued, “The defendants were charged with conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense.”
The group allegedly “engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade” at the Washington Surgi-Clinic — an effort the government alleges aimed to prevent patients from receiving services (in this instance, the ‘service’ was abortion).
For her part, Handy is accused of directing the blockade, and the group purportedly used chains, ropes, their bodies, and furniture to block two doors.
“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,” the statement continues.
Handy pleaded not guilty Monday. If convicted, she and other defendants could face up to $350,000 in fines and 11 years in prison.
In an interview with The Pillar, Handy was asked what she expects will happen in the case — and she said she has absolutely no idea. But it seems she’s prepared for whatever punishment comes her way.
“I always weigh the costs before I ever make a decision, especially a decision as big as what rescue entails,” she told the outlet. “I mean, I counted up the cost, and I believe following Christ is worth it. I believe following him to the cross, following him to Calvary is worth it.”
IS HANDY BEING CHARGED in the Fetal Remains Case?
So far, no one is being charged over the fetal remains. Washington D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III explained that the investigation into how Handy and others came into possession of the bodies is in its beginning stages.
“We’re not going to rush to judgment,” Contee told The Washington Post.
It’s unclear if any criminal wrongdoing could eventually be alleged, though nothing of the sort has happened thus far.
Authorities, operating on what they said was a tip, found the bodies after being alerted that the aborted babies might be in an apartment. Officials were reportedly told PAAU believed the unborn babies might have been victims of illegal abortion procedures — something the organization addressed in a press release.
“Their late gestational ages, as well as their apparent sustained injuries, potentially show violations of the Partial-Birth Abortion Act as well as the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which are federal crimes,” a PAAU statement reads.
Despite these claims, authorities have said there are no immediate plans to perform autopsies — something that has drawn the ire of some pro-life activists.
HOW Did the Babies Come Into PAAU’s Possession?
One of the most pressing questions surrounds how the babies came into PAAU’s possession. The organization has openly shared a narrative surrounding the situation and even held a press conference Tuesday morning to dig deeper into the facts surrounding the case.
The group, which says its mission is, in part, to “mobilize grassroots anti-abortion activists for direct action, educate the public about the exploitative influence of the Abortion Industrial Complex,” has granted numerous interviews explaining its leaders’ side of the story.
See PAAU’s press conference (caution: graphic images):
Handy and fellow activist Terrisa Bukovinac told WUSA-TV Monday that the five fetuses at the center of headlines were among 115 remains from unborn babies the organization procured March 25 from a medical waste transport company parked outside the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C.
The women said they were preparing to do their routine sidewalk counseling when they noticed and approached a Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services truck and asked the driver if they could have one of the boxes; they informed him it might contain fetal remains.
Bukovinac said she told the driver the group would give the unborn babies “a proper burial and funeral” and that he then allowed them to take a box.
A.J. Hurley, director of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, and a friend of Handy, told CBN’s Faithwire he received a call from the Handy and Bukovinac not long after they discovered unborn babies’ remains inside the box.
“I was not there the moment that the box was taken. I was there about five or six hours later,” he said. “I was in New York at the time, and the girls kind of freaked out … they called me and frantically asked that I come and that they need me there ASAP.”
Hurley jumped on a train and arrived in Washington, D.C., where he, too, reportedly saw the contents of the box, describing the 110 first-trimester babies as being placed in denture cups, with the five large “late-term babies in bigger white buckets.”
It was a scene that stunned him.
“I’ve never seen anything so evil and grotesque in my entire life,” Hurley said, expressing the “unbelievable sadness” and anger that took form at seeing the remains. “My first thoughts were, ‘I will never be the same.'”
Hurley said he and his wife spent days with the girls helping them process and navigate the situation. Watch him tell his story to Pastor Jeff Durbin of Apologia Studios (caution: graphic images):
At one point in the video, Hurley can be seen carefully handling one of the larger babies, a tragic and disturbing scene as the baby was clearly far along in development.
After the discovery, the scenario took some intriguing turns – and the details are still incomplete. The women said they looked for a pathologist for the babies, but to no avail.
Bukovinac and Handy later said they buried 110 of the unborn babies’ remains and worked with a Catholic priest to deliver on the promised funeral — but they held on to the five other larger fetuses and planned to turn them over to authorities, believing they were potentially aborted in violation of the law, according to WUSA-TV.
Hurley told Faithwire the activists were getting guidance from legal experts throughout the ordeal – a fact mainstream media outlets neglected to report initially.
“The whole time, they were listening to legal counsel and pro-life organizations and people who have dealt with similar situations and have been in the pro-life movement for the last 50 years,” he said.
Bukovinac mirrored this claim in an interview with The Pillar, telling the outlet they worked with an attorney to try and have the situation adequately investigated.
“We made arrangements with an attorney to send a letter to the medical examiner, asking DC homicide to investigate and to retrieve these children for the purpose of doing an autopsy,” she said.
— PAAU (@PAAUNOW) April 1, 2022
It should be noted that Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services denied these claims and said the company doesn’t transport fetal remains; the company also denied passing off a box to the activists.
“At no time did the Curtis Bay employee hand over any of these packages to the PAAU or other third party,” Curtis Bay said in a statement. “And any allegations made otherwise are false.”
THE TIMING ‘Connection’ Between the Two Cases
Despite being unrelated, the clinic case and the fetal remains scenario share a strange commonality: timing.
The clinic allegations against Handy and eight others stemmed from a 2020 incident, yet investigators happened to detain and charge Handy on May 30, 2022. Not only is this nearly two years after the alleged infractions, but it was on the same day police removed the fetuses from her home.
The timing is quite fascinating, to say the least. Hurley stated he, too, found the timing reasonably suspect.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” he said of the decision to charge Handy around the same time the babies’ remains were being picked up by authorities.
It’s unclear whether there was any deeper connection between this decision, though questions surrounding these elements appear perfectly warranted in light of the eyebrow-raising timeline.
BREAKING:@PAAUNOW press conference confirms the five late-term, apparently born-alive infants discovered from 3rd-trimester D.C. abortion clinic were packaged to be sent to a medical waste "energy" facility to burn their bodies for electricity.#JusticeForTheFive pic.twitter.com/12nkJoHxw9
— David Daleiden (@daviddaleiden) April 5, 2022
WHY Did Activists Want the Remains?
One of the story elements that might seem especially strange is why these remains might be held on to by pro-life activists. If you’ll recall, Bukovinac and Handy purportedly told the truck driver they wanted to provide a funeral to the unborn babies.
Hurley further explained this dynamic to help people better understand what was unfolding.
“It might seem crazy that people would have an aborted baby,” he said. “The pro-life movement has a history of … signifying the bodies of these aborted children and treating them with dignity and respect by taking them out of the trash dumpsters and giving them a dignified, Christian burial.”
Hurley also raised a related point. Over the past week, much of the attention has been on the remains and their presence in Handy’s apartment, yet Hurley found this attention “displaced.”
Rather than focusing on the activists trying to bury babies, he suggested perhaps those “butchering” these children should receive the rebuke.
“To treat these babies like trash and to put the focus on people who want to dignify them as though they are crazy lunatics … and to not put the focus on where it should be … it’s a very displaced anger,” he said.
While Hurley believes the remains serve as a sobering reminder — and an eye-opening reality — of “what the horror of abortion is,” he said the activists’ central goal was always about offering dignity to these babies.
“The goal the entire time … was to dignify these babies,” Hurley said. “To give them names and give them a proper burial rather than treat them like garbage.”
The names of the 115 babies brutally murdered in D.C. 110 were given a Catholic burial.
The 5 full-term babies recovered by @PAAUNOW remain in the hands of D.C. authorities:
— Edie Heipel (@ediemheipel) April 5, 2022
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
It’s unclear what will happen next with the fetal remains portion of the case.
While officials have so far indicated little interest in performing autopsies on the five fetuses, Hurley plans to hold a protest outside the Washington, D.C. medical examiner’s office Friday to implore officials to rethink that position.
He said Handy will be present at that event, and he believes there is sufficient evidence to back some of the worries activists have voiced about the five late-term babies.
“There is incredibly strong evidence that federal crimes have been committed,” he said. “The way that some of them have been killed, dismembered, delivered is highly, highly suspect.”
Hurley, who has worked as a pediatric respiratory care practitioner, believes there needs to be an investigation into what happened to these babies.
“I can speak from a good deal of experience knowing that what’s happened to these children needs desperately to be investigated,” he said, noting that tests would expose whether the babies were given digoxin, a drug used to drop a baby’s heart before abortion, or whether they have air in their lungs.
Hurley said that the presence of air would indicate the possibility that the babies were born alive.
Others like Pastor Durbin join Hurley in hoping that the imagery seen in the photos and videos surrounding the case sparks something deep and guttural in the populace.
“I think that people need to see the images and see the results of abortion,” Durbin, who is not involved in the case but had Hurley on his show to discuss it, told CBN’s Faithwire. “I’m hoping that the visuals of these children and the results of abortion will provoke people to finally stand up and do something.”
Have you have had an abortion, are contemplating ending your pregnancy, or would like pregnancy-related resources, please click here.