Biden's DOJ Incarcerates Elderly Woman for FACE Act Violation

 June 2, 2024

Paula Paulette Harlow, 75, is now facing a two-year prison sentence.

According to Daily Caller, Boston-based Harlow was found guilty of conspiring to prevent access to a Washington D.C. abortion clinic, breaching the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

This case is a clear reflection of the Justice Department's rigorous enforcement of the FACE Act under President Joe Biden's administration, emphasizing legal consequences for demonstrators who obstruct abortion clinics. Harlow's involvement in the 2020 protest has landed her a significant prison term as the court aims to assert the seriousness of such offenses.

On October 22, 2020, Harlow, alongside other pro-life activists, orchestrated a blockade at the clinic, using physical barriers and their bodies. This collective action led to disruptive consequences for the clinic’s operations, affecting staff and patients alike. The Department of Justice stated, "The evidence also showed that the 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."

Demonstrators Live-Streamed Clinic Blockade

The protesters did not limit their demonstration to physical presence; they also broadcasted their actions live, ensuring a wider audience for their demonstration. This aspect of the protest was highlighted by the DOJ, which disclosed that the blockade involved tactics like chaining and roping off clinic entrances.

Harlow was part of a larger group detained for similar charges, underlining a broader strategy of legal accountability for disruptions at reproductive health services facilities.

Her co-defendants received varying sentences, reflecting their roles and the specifics of their participation in the blockades.

Other notable sentences include Lauren Handy’s nearly five-year sentence, underscoring the legal boundaries set against obstructing clinic entries under the FACE Act. Comparatively, 34-year-old Jay Smith pleaded guilty and received a lighter sentence of 10 months, followed by three years of supervised release.

FBI Involvement Highlights Federal Response

The investigation was a collaborative effort that involved multiple agencies, including the FBI's Washington and Pittsburgh Field Offices, along with the Metropolitan Police Department. Their collective efforts culminated in the detailed documentation of the event and subsequent charges.

The incident and ensuing legal battles have not occurred without controversy.

Certain political figures, particularly from the Republican party, have criticized the Biden administration's decisive enforcement of the FACE Act, with some even calling for its repeal. This political backlash reflects wider national debates over reproductive rights and the extent of demonstration legality.


Despite her age, Harlane's sentencing marks an important precedent in the enforcement of laws designed to protect access to reproductive health services. The Justice Department has indicated that obstructing access to such facilities is a federal offense, subject to significant legal penalties.

The severity of Paula Paulette Harlow’s sentencing is part of a concerted effort by the Department of Justice to enforce the FACE Act vigorously.

While the decision has been contentious, it underscores the administration's stance on maintaining unimpeded access to reproductive health services. This case serves as a stark reminder of the legal implications of protesting that crosses into the territory of obstruction and intimidation.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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