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‘First Atheist to Be Charged’: Man Speaks Out After Joining Growing List of People Targeted For Alleged FACE Act Violations

10-19-2022
prolifeatheist
Supporters attend a rally held by Planned Parenthood commemorating the 45th anniversary of the landmark Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

A pro-life atheist has been added to the growing list of people being indicted on Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act charges in the post-Roe era.

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What Happened? 

Herb Geraghty, 25, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was indicted on Oct. 14 under the FACE Act as well as conspiracy against rights violations based on an Oct. 22, 2020, event described as “an alleged reproductive health care clinic blockade.”

Geraghty’s case surrounds an incident at the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C., and reportedly involved DC Area Anti-Abortion Advocacy, a D.C.-based pro-life group. His name was added to an already-existing indictment containing nine additional defendants.

“Geraghty is the Executive Director of Rehumanize International, a founding board member of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, and is the first atheist to be charged with alleged violations of FACE,” according to a press release from the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a group that opposes abortion.

Geraghty's Response

The accused has not yet been arrested by federal officials, according to The Daily Signal, though he has spoken out about the charges against him.

“This is a clear abuse of power and a sign that the Biden administration is using the Department of Justice to attack political targets — particularly those of us who believe in the right to life for all human beings,” Geraghty told The Daily Signal.

The U.S. Department of Justice released a statement Friday explaining the charges against Geraghty and accusing him of “obstruction” at the clinic.

The Accusations

Geraghty purportedly communicated with Lauren Handy, a fellow defendant, to plan the Oct. 2020 blockade.

“The original indictment returned by a federal grand jury on March 24 alleges that the nine defendants – Lauren Handy, Jonathan Darnel, Jay Smith, Paulette Harlow, Jean Marshall, John Hinshaw, Heather Idoni, William Goodman and Joan Bell – 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 Justice Department statement reads.

Some of these defendants reportedly traveled from out of state to be present for the protest, which allegedly included some defendants “forcefully [entering] the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains, and ropes.”

The event was also live-streamed, which is noted in the Justice Department’s statement on the matter.

All 10 defendants are accused of violating the FACE Act for establishing the blockage and eclipsing clinic access. These individuals are now added to the list of at least 12 others who have been detained under the FACE Act, a federal law intended to protect clinic access.

Those convicted under this act could face prison sentences of up to 11 years as well as up to $260,000 in fines.

Geraghty’s legal quagmire in the post-Roe era raises questions about whether the federal government is ramping up its FACE Act targeting after the U.S. Supreme Court upended abortion law.

It should be noted the other nine people involved in his case were indicted in March 2022, before the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case overturned Roe, sending abortion back to the states.

An Interesting Connection

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact a group Geraghty is affiliated with, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, was the organization that made headlines in March for obtaining the remains of 115 aborted fetuses.

Handy, who was in the initial indictment to which Geraghty has been entangled, was at the center of the fetal remains case; she reportedly had the bodies of five unborn fetuses in her apartment. Handy and other activists were hoping to give these babies dignity and bury them; a funeral later unfolded.

Handy previously pleaded not guilty in the clinic blockage case. Despite being unrelated, the clinic case and the fetal remains scenario (read more about the remains case here) share a strange commonality: timing.

The FACE Act clinic allegations against Handy and nine others stemmed from the Oct. 2020 incident, yet investigators happened to detain and charge Handy on March 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 Daily Signal offers an interesting timeline of when the fetal remains were reportedly discovered and the arrest unfolded:

The activists told The Daily Signal they found the aborted babies’ bodies on March 25. At their request, [activist Terrisa] Bukovinac told The Daily Signal, their attorney sent a letter to the the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department on March 29 informing the police that they had the baby bodies and wished to turn them over to authorities for an investigation.

“However, the next day, Lauren was indicted on unrelated charges for a nonviolent direct action that occurred in October 2020 — at the very abortion facility where they had received the remains just days prior,” Geraghty said in a blog post about Handy’s arrest, describing how the FBI arrested Handy on March 30, charging her and nine others with federal civil rights offenses.

An investigation into the fetal remains is reportedly ongoing.

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.”

Indictments Are Mounting

As Faithwire previously reported, pro-life Catholic activist Mark Houck has pleaded not guilty after he was arrested on FACE Act charges in a separate incident. He is accused of allegedly shoving a 72-year-old Planned Parenthood volunteer, Bruce Love, last October.

Houck’s team has said Love aggressively approached their 12-year-old son and began making obscene comments and that Houck was protecting his son. Local police showed up to the scene when the incident happened, but there was reportedly insufficient evidence to proceed.

Love filed a criminal complaint against Houck but reportedly never showed up in court.

All of this led to consternation and concern when the FBI arrested Houck at his home last month, with a swarm of agents descending with guns drawn.

Then, over a separate incident unfolding last spring, 11 more pro-life activists were detained earlier this month for purportedly blocking clinic access in Tennessee.

***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.*** 

Have you have had an abortion, are contemplating ending your pregnancy, or would like pregnancy-related resources, please click here.

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