WASHINGTON, D.C.(LifeSiteNews) — The judge in the ongoing FACE Act trial in Washington, D.C., has refused to allow jurors to see an undercover video of a late-term abortionist saying he would allow a baby born during an abortion attempt to die, even though the pro-life defendants say that’s the video that motivated the pro-life efforts for which they now stand trial.
As LifeSiteNews has extensively reported, a group of five anti-abortion activists are currently on trial for blocking access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic in downtown Washington, D.C., in a “traditional rescue” in October 2020. Pro-life rescues involve activists physically intervening to try to prevent women from aborting their pre-born babies.
The tense proceedings, which began last week, have seen a former pro-life “rescuer” testify against her colleagues, an abortion staffer claim that Catholicism is compatible with her work, and the judge admonish a Catholic nun who began praying in the courtroom while the witness passed by. The trial is expected to wrap up later this week, followed by jury deliberations.
On Tuesday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly refused to allow the defense attorneys to present the jury with a video filmed in 2013 by an undercover investigator with the pro-life group Live Action, despite the fact that the defendants have said the footage played a major role in inspiring their efforts to stop abortions.
In the video, Washington Surgi-Clinic abortionist Cesare Santangelo says he would allow a baby born alive during an abortion attempt to die rather than undertaking “extra” measures like intubation to “help it” survive. While abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in Washington, D.C., federal law prohibits murdering babies in partial-birth abortions or allowing babies born in botched abortions to die.
“I think we can’t highlight enough how important this video is,” said LifeSiteNews journalist Louis Knuffke in a conversation with LifeSite senior correspondent Jim Hale outside the district courthouse in D.C.
“A few of the defendants have testified that this video served as the motivation for coming to D.C. from out of state,” Knuffke said. “Even the prosecution admitted that if what was contained in that video were true, it would be legally subject to prosecution and under current law could be tried as murder.”
In the Tuesday discussion, Knuffke and Hale also said that the prosecution’s attempts to prove the defendants engaged in a “conspiracy” to block access to the clinic was weakened as defendants said their intention with the rescue was “nonviolent,” and one witness said she had no preconceived plan when she approached the clinic other than to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
One of the defendants, Rosemary “Herb” Geraghty (a woman who identifies as a man but staunchly opposes abortion), “made it clear” during her testimony “that what is taking place inside that clinic is late term abortions and infanticide,” Hale recounted.
LifeSite’s team said the defendants, three of whom took the stand on Tuesday, have “met fire with fire” amid aggressive cross-examination from the prosecution.
“All I got to say is I think they deserve our support,” Knuffke said. “Their witness to the sanctity of life has been expressed despite the judges and the prosecution’s continual attempts to keep them from speaking on their beliefs about the sanctity of the life of the unborn.”
“This is about federal power,” Hale suggested. “This is about the federal government of the United States bringing its entire weight down on people whom they are trying to portray as fanatics. And I think that many of the defendants today got their point across is that, no, what we are trying to do is stop murder.”
The trial is anticipated to wrap up as early as today, at which time the jury will be left to deliberate and decide its verdict. If the defendants are found guilty, there is a possibility the decision could be overturned on appeal.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, one of the defense attorneys last week notified the judge of a recent appellate court decision siding with pro-lifers in a separate case alleging selective enforcement of the law. The decision could be a positive indicator for the pro-life defendants if their cases reach the appellate court.
On September 6, another group of anti-abortion activists will stand trial for the same October, 2020 rescue in Washington, D.C. LifeSiteNews will continue reporting on these important cases.