First Amendment Victory in SC
On August 29, Columbia Christians for Life won a $51,000 settlement in a First Amendment case against the City of Florence, SC, in addition to declaratory and injunctive relief against an unconstitutional parade permit requirement in the city code. Florence police officers cited the code in 2002 to disrupt a pro-life display of graphic abortion pictures on the public sidewalk. The U.S. District Court found that the city’s permit requirement was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Huge Picket in Meadville, PA
On August 3, the Meadville, PA office of Dr. William Morris, who has ties to the American Women’s Services abortion clinic 40 miles away in Erie, was picketed by 130 pro-life activists. The picket, organized by Crawford County Citizens for Life and People for Life, which has offices adjacent to the Erie abortion clinic, was widely covered in print and on TV. The Meadville Tribune reported that during the protest no patients entered or exited the building.
In an interview with the paper, Morris denied any involvement with abortion: “I do not do abortions at my office in Meadville and I don’t work at that clinic in Erie.” Morris also said he doesn’t volunteer at the Erie clinic. However, People for Life President Tim Broderick told Action News, “Five of us are eyewitnesses who have seen both the doctor and his vehicle at the abortion facility.”
Activist Arrested in Northern Ireland
On August 8, Bernie Smyth, the woman who is almost single-handedly responsible for keeping abortion out of Northern Ireland, was arrested under a bizarre set of circumstances. While she was standing outside of an abortion referral center in Belfast, a man attempted to destroy her leaflets and posters.
Smyth called the police to report that she had been assaulted, and when they arrived, the man claimed that he had been assaulted. The police arrested her, hauled her off to the police station and charged her with common assault. Stay tuned to “Activism Update” for future details.
Distributing Literature = Trespassing?
On November 7, longtime pro-life activist Monica Migliorino Miller appeared at a pretrial conference in Livonia, MI in response to a citation she had received for distributing literature from the group Catholics in the Public Square in the parking lot of St. Edith Parish the previous month. Miller was charged with violating Livonia handbill statute 9.50.060, which only covers distribution of handbills at shopping center parking lots or on city streets, not church parking lots.
The prosecutor in the case started off by asking Miller, “Don’t you know that all the churches had posted a notice that no literature could be distributed on their property because it violated IRS codes—and was a threat to their tax-exempt status?” Miller responded that she knew of no church—certainly not St. Edith’s—that had posted such a notice. The prosecutor then warned Miller that if she participated in similar activities in the future, she would be charged with trespassing.
Before leaving the hearing, she offered to give him a copy of the 1980 U. S. Supreme Court decision Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins that indeed ruled that free speech activity could not be banned from privately owned parking lots. Following the pretrial conference, Miller appeared before a judge who first acknowledged that the city attorney recommended that her case be dismissed, but then proceeded to lecture her.
The judge asked Miller, “You know what you did is wrong, don’t you?” Miller responded, “No. Actually, I don’t think I did anything wrong,” and pointed out to the judge that Livonia’s own handbill statutes provided an exemption for the distribution of religious and political literature. In frustration, the judge finally dismissed the case.
New Ministry Targets Abortion-Crime Link
For the first time, they discussed the pain of abortion.
Judy Climer, president of the Genesee County, MI chapter of Black Americans for Life, reports that the group is developing a much-needed post-abortion Bible study for women convicts. While conducting her own Bible studies in two Michigan prisons, Climer found that half of female inmates had had abortions: “Their shame led them to drugs and alcohol, which led them to stealing to support their habits and then a crime that landed them in prison where, for the first time, they discussed the pain of their abortion.”
Several judges have told Climer that they will allow female convicts to choose the Bible study program as a condition of probation. She says that this program, run exclusively by volunteers, at no cost to taxpayers, “will allow women to come into a protective environment with people who care, and they will receive the help that may keep them from having to go to prison.”