An elderly woman could face up to 11 years in prison after she was found guilty Thursday of participating in a pro-life blockade of a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic in 2020.
Paulette Harlow of Kingston, Massachusetts, 75, was convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and was found guilty of conspiracy against rights. She and nine other pro-life activists have been charged with crimes related to the Oct. 22, 2020, sit-in in which they blocked access to the clinic’s abortion services, according to prosecutors.
Harlow suffers from significant health issues and was not immediately detained following her guilty verdict in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.” It is the same law that pro-life father of seven Mark Houck was charged and acquitted under earlier this year.
Passed in 1993, the FACE Act was written to prosecute crimes at both abortion clinics and pro-life pregnancy facilities. Despite its broad areas of protection, it has been used almost exclusively against pro-life activists.
Because of Harlow’s health issues, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who presided over the bench trial, allowed her to remain under house arrest until her sentencing hearing on March 19, 2024, Allen Orenberg, her defense attorney, told CNA on Thursday.
The penalties for her conviction could land her with a sentence of a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.