While the libel case was going on throughout 2008, the Pro-Life Action League was engaged in several other legal battles.
In March, the League was informed by the IRS that we were under investigation for “intervening” in the February primary election, because of an e-mail that Eric Scheidler sent informing pro-lifers about which candidates had helped our effort to fight Planned Parenthood in Aurora. A finding against the League would have been disastrous, including fines and penalties potentially in the tens of thousands of dollars and loss of not-for-profit status.
Working with attorneys from Mosher and Associates, a firm that specializes in not-for-profit legal issues, the League crafted an official policy regarding political activity and submitted it to the IRS for approval. On August 19, official notice was received from the IRS that the League was in the clear and the case closed.
Defending Activists’ Civil Rights
Throughout this year, the League has been in settlement negotiations with the City of Aurora, Illinois over violations of pro-life activists’ First Amendment rights by police and other city officials, before federal judge Virginia Kendall. Violations include restricting the prolife presence on public property, destroying prolife memorial crosses and harassing sidewalk counselors. In one case, police even told a man he could not pray against abortion on a public sidewalk!
The negotiations have been set back by several delays, as well as several unresolved issues, but Eric Scheidler is working with attorneys to present a draft settlement to the judge before year’s end.
Meanwhile, the League’s legal team has been moving forward with litigation against the Village of Bridgeview, Illinois for disrupting a Face the Truth Tour site there in July 2007 and the City of Joliet, Illinois for shutting down a Tour site there in July 2008.
Shutting Down the “Abortion Fortress”
The potentially most significant case the League is involved with is Frachey v. Planned Parenthood of Illinois, brought by Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood and several home owners who live within 250 feet of the Aurora facility against the City of Aurora and Planned Parenthood. The case seeks to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for numerous violations of the zoning laws of Aurora, and ultimately to force the “Abortion Fortress” to shut down.
After the case was dismissed out of hand by two panels in the City of Aurora—a result that was fully expected—it is now in state court before DuPage County Judge Paul Fullerton. Attorneys have filed an amended complaint laying out Planned Parenthood’s clear violations of the law, and hearings on the case are expected sometime next year.