Judge says elderly pro-life activist should ‘make every effort to remain alive’ in prison

As the Justice Department continued to face scrutiny over its alleged targeting of Christians, a judge reportedly raised an elderly pro-life activist’s religion at her sentencing in suggesting she “make every effort to remain alive…”

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress as he himself defended against claims of targeted investigations in a corporate media op-ed. Friday, a review of court transcripts by Fox News Digital raised new eyebrows regarding the conviction of 75-year-old Paulette “Paula” Harlow after concern for her well-being had Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly bringing up faith.

Following a Nov. 2023 conviction for an Oct. 22, 2020 violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, when she and a slew of co-defendants had protested outside the entrance of the Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C. where unborn baby murders were conducted, Harlow learned on May 31 that she was being sentenced to two years in federal prison and 36 months supervised release.

In pronouncing the sentence, Kollar-Kotelly was reported as saying, “I would suggest that, in terms of your religion, that one of the tenets is that you should make the effort during this period of time, when it may be difficult in terms of for your husband, to make every effort to remain alive, to do the things that you need to do to survive, because that’s part of the tenets of your religion.”

According to Fox News Digital, that sentiment came after the defendant’s husband and primary caregiver, John Harlow had pled for mercy for his ailing wife, “I feel like Paulette is dying. In my heart, I think she’s having a hard time staying alive.”

A similar sentiment had come from defense attorney Allen Orenberg who’d gone on record arguing, “She cannot continue to exist without support, especially that of her husband.”

Orenberg had explained that his client’s husband had told him before sentencing, “Well, if Paulette goes to prison, I want to go with her. I want to be there for her. She’s going to need me. She can’t continue to live without me.”

Meanwhile, as Harlow remained under house arrest as efforts were underway to select a federal facility capable of providing necessary medical care, Garland’s Washington Post op-ed only stood to reinforce impressions of a two-tiered system of justice.

“The Justice Department makes decisions about criminal investigations based only on the facts and the law. We do not investigate people because of their last name, their political affiliation, the size of their bank account, where they come from or what they look like. We investigate and prosecute violations of federal law — nothing more, nothing less,” he wrote. This claim was readily refuted by the disproportionate number of cases faithful pro-life advocates faced with raids, indictments, arrests and prison sentences compared to the number of unprosecuted radicals defiling churches and crisis pregnancy centers.

That included Harlow’s co-defendant Lauren Handy, 30, who received a 57-month sentence for her participation in the same protest.

Speaking with Fox News Digital, Harlow offered her own reaction to Kollar-Kotelly’s statement that ruled out any ill-intent, “It was just her expression. Just saying try to stay alive. ‘That’s also a tenet of your faith,’ which, yeah, it is a tenet of my faith. But also, saving children is a tenet of my faith. I think it wasn’t anything that I would say, but I — at the time, I was pondering and am still pondering [the sentence].”

Kevin Haggerty

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