You may have heard the news by now that police found five dead fetuses inside the home of an anti-abortion zealot.
What you may not know is her connection to an atheist who has attempted to bridge the world of secularism and anti-abortion activism.
Lauren Handy and the stolen fetuses
On Wednesday, nine people were arrested after the U.S. Justice department said they violated the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by blocking access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic, an abortion facility, in 2020. The nine extremists “used their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes to block clinic doors and had livestreamed their actions on Facebook.”
They each face up to 11 years in prison, in addition to supervised released and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
The ringleader of this group was 28-year-old Lauren Handy, who got access to the facility by using a false name and claiming she was a patient. Once she and her colleagues were inside the building, they hijacked it to prevent other (actual) patients from getting help.
“We have people intervening physically with their bodies to prevent women from entering the clinic to murder their children,” [Jonathan] Darnel said on a Facebook livestream, according to court papers.
After Mr. Darnel entered the building, and recorded people blocking the entrance, he said on the livestream that the “rescuers are doing their job. They’re not allowing women to enter the abortion clinic,” according to court papers. It was not immediately clear if Mr. Darnel had a lawyer.
All of those arrests came on Wednesday. But shit really hit the fan when—unrelated to those arrests—police were tipped off that there was “potential biohazard material” inside Lauren Handy’s home. They entered her house on Wednesday only to find that Handy was storing the remains of five aborted fetuses.
The television station WUSA reported that it had a camera outside Ms. Handy’s home on Wednesday when homicide and forensic services detectives removed evidence in red biohazard bags and coolers from the basement. Ms. Handy declined to say what was in the coolers but said that “people would freak out when they heard,” WUSA reported.
The police said they had gone to the home around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday to investigate a tip about “potential biohazard material” when officers found the fetuses inside.
Getting an abortion is legal; stealing the remains is a crime. Handy has not yet been charged with a crime in connection to her collection. Her organization has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday to explain what the hell is going on, but we already have an idea of what they’re going to say:
… in a statement on Friday, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising said one of the individuals who had been charged [for the clinic takeover] was trying to turn the fetuses over to the police for an investigation. The group said they were in “their late gestational ages” and in a condition that showed possible violations of the federal Partial Birth Abortion Act, which bans certain medical procedures late in a pregnancy. The group also said a funeral Mass and “naming ceremony” were held.
WORLD Magazine hinted at possible origins for the remains:
Handy and other activists on March 9 accessed labs and freezers at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she said they saw bags “filled with aborted baby body parts.” The PAAU shows a picture of paper bags lining shelves in the freezer. It is unclear if the March 9 visit is related to the aborted baby remains obtained by police this week.
It’s just a bunch of deranged, fetus-obsessed people who want to make abortions impossible to access while also complaining about abortion procedures undertaken precisely because of their kind of activism.
Handy works for a group run by atheist Terrisa Bukovinac
The group that blocked access to the abortion clinic and is now speaking on behalf of Handy and her dead fetuses is Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, founded and led by Terrisa Bukovinac.
Bukovinac is the former leader of the head-scratching group Democrats for Life, which works to advance anti-abortion policies on the left. (Real “Log Cabin Republican” vibes all around…) She has previously described herself as “atheist, feminist, vegan, Democrat, and a consistent life activist.”
She’s spoken before, very unconvincingly, about why her atheism is compatible with her desire to control other women’s bodies. And, when running the Democrats for Life group, she raised just as many eyebrows with her suggestion of a good left-wing leader:
… we should be excited to see Tulsi Gabbard, a progressive millennial woman of color, a high-profile former presidential candidate, breaking party lines to champion common-sense protections for infants born alive during abortions and pain-capable fetuses beyond 20 weeks.
Gabbard indeed introduced anti-abortion legislation that had no chance of passing. She also introduced anti-transgender legislation. In other words, she wasn’t “progressive” in any meaningful sense of the word. There was a reason she gained no traction during the presidential primaries last year, even after other progressives dropped out. If she’s someone’s idea of a good Democrat, well, feel free to follow her out the door and onto FOX News segments.
I only bring that up to say Bukovinac’s entire schtick is pretending to be a left-wing activist while using Republican talking points to advance a conservative agenda. There’s nothing actually “progressive” about her stances.
Bukovinac also founded and ran a group called Pro-Life San Francisco. In 2018, her members harassed a sanitation worker who stopped by a local Planned Parenthood to do his job. As I wrote at the time, that was like taking your frustration against Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay owners out on the employee working the cash register. There was no compassion there. There was no understanding of the issue. It was just pointless and cruel.
And now Bukovinac is defending Handy, the fetus-hoarding zealot who may be heading to jail.
“It is her apartment,” Ms. Bukovinac said, adding that the group would have more to say at a news conference on Tuesday. “We are definitely going to reveal all the details on Tuesday, and they are explosive,” Ms. Bukovinac said.
After the charges were announced on Wednesday, Ms. Bukovinac said, “Rescuers like Lauren and the other eight defendants are inspiring a whole new generation of leaders and activists to overcome their fears of sanctions and to take heroic direct action on behalf of the unborn.”
In a statement announcing the upcoming press conference, Bukovinac also suggested there were other fetal remains out there.
They’re acting like heroes when it’s just a lineup of criminals who spend their lives making other women’s lives worse. It’s not clear if Handy or anyone else will be charged over the five (or more) fetuses. But let’s hope the Justice Department holds nothing back when going after them for blocking clinic access.
While Bukovinac doesn’t have any formal connection to the larger secular organizations around the country, her active involvement is a reminder that atheism is not synonymous with rationality, reason, or humanism in any other area of life.
Update: I’ve reworded aspects of this piece to de-emphasize her ”atheist activism” since that’s never been her primary motivator.