Republicans Raise Concerns About Alleged Mistreatment of Jailed Elderly Pro-Life Activists

Joan Andrews Bell, Jonathan Darnel, and Jean Marshall
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House Republicans are raising concerns about alleged mistreatment of and denial of necessary medical care for two jailed, elderly pro-life activists in Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Virginia.

In a letter to the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Thursday, House Pro-Life Caucus co-chairs Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Andy Harris (R-MD) said they have seen reports alleging that Jean Marshall 74, and Heather Idoni, 59, have been mistreated in jail while awaiting sentencing. Both women were found guilty last year of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act during a Washington, D.C.,  abortion clinic protest in 2020. Marshall was sentenced this week to 15 additional months in prison, and Idoni is set to be sentenced next week. 

“We ask [U.S. Marshals Service] Director [Ronald] Davis to provide a clear and comprehensive account of the care provided to Ms. Idoni and Ms. Marshall during their time in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service,” lawmakers wrote, adding:

As you know, the U.S. Marshal Services is required to provide appropriate medical care for all prisoners. U.S. Marshals Service Policy Directive – Prisoner Health Care Management states that ‘All prisoners will receive medically necessary health care services.’ This is defined as ‘[n]ecessary to diagnose or treat a medical condition, which, if left untreated, would likely lead to a significant loss of function, deterioration of health, uncontrolled suffering, or death.’ 

RELATED: More Pro-Life Activists Sentenced to Years Behind Bars, Including Veteran, Two Women in Their 70s

They also asked Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters to advise them of what actions the bureau has taken “to ensure Ms. Marshall is receiving appropriate care.”

“We also ask for information on actions the Bureau of Prisons plans to take to provide appropriate care for Ms. Idoni if she is placed in Bureau of Prison custody,” the letter reads. 

Republicans pointed to reports from LifeSite News, a pro-life online news outlet, in which Idoni alleged that she is not receiving appropriate medical care for a serious heart condition and diabetes at the The Central Detention Facility, known as the D.C. Jail, where she is being held. The outlet also reported that Idoni had recently suffered a stroke.

“Following the stroke, Ms. Idoni said that she ‘had had 3 stents placed above her heart two weeks ago and was told to take daily doses of heart medicine. However, prison officials have not given her a single dose,”‘ the letter details. 

“LifeSite News reported that Ms. Idoni has repeatedly raised this issue with jail personnel. She says a jail nurse told her, after six days, that jail records indicate she received her daily dose, so Ms. Idoni is concerned that someone at the jail is falsifying her medical records. Ms. Idoni told a reporter that ‘she was frightened that she might die,”‘ Republicans continued. 

Idoni told LifeSite News that the DC Jail does not offer her specific diabetes medication, and that she has been without her prescription.

“LifeSite News noted that Ms. Idoni, who has been held at six other jails since her arrest in 2022, had been able to get her diabetes medication at each of the previous jails. Ms. Idoni told the reporter, ‘So, my blood sugar numbers are a hundred points higher than they normally should be… My numbers have been perfect at all the other jails,'” the letter reads. 

While not mentioned in the letter, Idoni alleged to reporters that while she was previously detained at the Alexandria Detention Center, she was subjected to 22 days of solitary confinement. Idoni alleged she was punished for sharing food with fellow inmates, and alleged she was only allowed to walk outside of her cell for two hours in the middle of the night each day, and that the lights in her cell were constantly kept on.

Republicans also asked about the treatment of Marshall, who has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since September of 2023 and was being detained at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, until her sentencing this week, lawmakers wrote. 

“Ms. Marshall writes that she suffers from pain in her hip and an inability to walk. She reports that she was evaluated for osteoarthritis in both hips by Dr. Talmo of New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Ms. Marshall explains that she was scheduled for right hip surgery in October 2023 but was not allowed to keep her surgery date,” the letter reads.

“She writes that, currently, ‘I am afraid to take an anti-inflammatory drug for pain due to the reflux, and today my right knee is stiff, preventing me from bending it, and so I just drag my right leg as I walk.’ She also states that ‘my right leg was growing numb,”‘ lawmakers continued. 

Lawmakers asked the directors for the opportunity to speak with them directly about the situations of both Idoni and Marshall no later than May 17, 2024. The letter was signed Reps. Smith (R-NJ) and Harris (R-MD); Judiciary Subcommittee Chairs Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Chip Roy (R-TX); Reps. Harriet Hageman (R-WY), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).

The U.S. Marshals Service did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for comment by time of publication. Donald Murphy, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) told Breitbart News that FBOP “responds directly to Members of Congress and their staff.” 

“Out of respect and deference to Members, we do not share our Congressional correspondence with the media,” he said via email.

“However, we can share, the individuals listed in your inquiry do not appear to be nor have ever been in the custody of the FBOP,” he added, referring further questions to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.


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