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‘I Can Love God in Prison’: Full Statement of Jailed Pro-Lifer Joan Andrews Bell in DC FACE Act Trial

(LifeSiteNews) – Lifeguard Joan Andrews Bell attended his trial with two statements that he was not allowed to read in full.

Dr. Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, told LifeSiteNews via email that Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had “muzzled” Bell during closing arguments held on Thursday, September 14. This was during the second FACE Act trial of pro-life witnesses accused of trying to save lives in an abortion business in late October 2020 in Washington, DC.

Bell had both an “Opening Statement” and a “Closing Statement” to present to the judge before reading them aloud. In the copy seen by LifeSiteNews, large sections of the statements were marked with a large X, apparently indicating that they should not be spoken. A small cross indicated what Bell could say.

“Short closing was completely banned,” Miller wrote.

Friday, Bell, 74, and his companions Jonathan Darnell40 i Jean Marshall, 72, were found guilty of breaching the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. They were immediately imprisoned.

LifeSite has bolded those statements that Miller reported Bell was allowed to say. Additions made to the text have been inserted in italics.


John Bell


[Added: The evidence will show] I’m a pacifist. They always have been. [When I was] A boy growing up on a farm, my father had to deal with me blocking the load of cattle to keep the calves from going to slaughter. When I was old enough, I realized that animals have a purpose. They are not people. As long as they’re not abused and…treated humanely, it’s fine for them to serve that purpose.

Being Catholic and knowing that human life is sacredI have been deeply involved in the fight against injustice against people since my pre-teens, from the civil rights movement, Citizens Against the Death Penalty, the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s, [to] the pro-life movement (resisting the worst mass murder of all).

My means of resistance have always been entirely non-violent along with compassion and respect shown towards those with whom I am in opposition.

[Added: OK only if testimony.] Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. they have been my spiritual mentors. Jesus Christ is the ultimate standard: give your life for others.

I vehemently opposed the leadership of the anti-war movement when those around me were verbally disrespecting the police, calling them “pigs” and calling the soldiers “baby killers.” I opposed and eventually left any group that did not stop or promoted violence, verbal or otherwise. This is true to this very day. And I will tell you that the most supportive and non-violent group I have ever been a part of is the pro-life movement. After more than 50 years of working with thousands of others to protect human life in this cause, these are the most compassionate, caring, non-violent people I have verbally and physically been a part of. [Added: OK only if testifying] Yes, I have blocked the killing of babies, but I have never verbally accosted an abortionist or anyone, especially a pregnant mother. we love them.

In a rescue before this one, I had an abortionist say to me, “I know you love me.”

[Added: Can say only if testifying—not simply addressing the jury.] Please understand that we have an absolute rule that cannot be broken whether you are counseling on the sidewalks or at a pro-life march or rally or doing a rescue inside or outside a building. You can’t touch anyone! If you are attacked, you can only lie down to protect yourself. To protect someone else you cannot touch the attacker. You can only block other people’s attack by placing your own body between the attacker and the victim. If the victim is on the ground, you can place your body on top of the other person to receive the blows for him or her. This is an absolute standard. Nothing else is tolerated.

CLOSING STATEMENT [crosssed out and the words “Addressing the Jurors” added]

I did not want a lawyer to represent me, although the court insisted that I have a lawyer as legal counsel in the courtroom. … Mr. Stephen Brennwald has been a great blessing and I thank the court. But I didn’t want to be represented because the babies who were killed the day I and others tried to rescue them never received due process of law before their falsely legal execution: no day in court, no representation.

Please understand. I can love God in prison or out of prison. What matters to me is that you know that God loves you with a passion! I hope with all my heart that if you don’t already know… you will come to know this Truth in a more personal and profound way.

RELATED: Pro-life rescuers found guilty, immediately taken into custody in second DC FACE Act trial


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