Victory in Sidewalk Counseling Case
Veteran sidewalk counselor Walter Hoye scored a major victory July 29 when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with him in ruling that the City of Oakland’s “bubble zone” ordinance “unconstitutionally suppresses speech based on the content of its message.” Pastor Hoye was the first person arrested and later convicted under the ordinance after it was adopted in May 2008, although those convictions were overturned last year.
While the Circuit Court ruled that the Oakland ordinance was constitutional as it is written, it also ruled that the ordinance is not valid as the city applies it, because police have only enforced it against Hoye, but not others, like the abortion clinic “escorts” who have made a habit of surrounding him, blocking his signs, and otherwise making it impossible for him to talk to abortion-bound women.
Significantly, the Court left open the possibility that the Oakland law could be struck down entirely if Hoye could show the ordinance as written affords him no alternatives for reaching his intended audience.
Fighting P. P. in Auburn Hills, MI
Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, led by the redoubtable Monica Miller, is currently locked in a heated battle to prevent Planned Parenthood from opening a 12,000 square foot abortion facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Planned Parenthood officials insist that a deed restriction on the property they purchased in 2010 does not prevent them from opening the facility. The owners of an adjacent Comfort Suites Hotel disagree, and earlier this year they sought to enforce the deed restriction, which allows the property to be used only for “restaurant, retail or office.” Planned Parenthood responded by filing a lawsuit in May 2011 to challenge the deed restriction.
A hearing in the case was held September 7, at which an attorney for the hotel argued that the “office” use allowed under the deed restriction does not allow medical offices that conduct outpatient surgeries—which abortions obviously are.
Planned Parenthood hoped Judge James Alexander would simply rule they can open their facility under the deed restriction. Instead, he decided to give both sides 60 days to file more response briefs, do depositions, research and discovery. Miller declared the hearing a pro-life victory, with Planned Parenthood deprived of the easy win they wanted. But she also cautioned that this battle is far from over.
Pro-Life “Flash Mobs” Take Off
A great innovations in pro-life activism was birthed in 2011: the pro-life “flash mob,” in which a large group of people, mostly young, assemble in a public place, and then seemingly spontaneously start singing well-rehearsed pro-life chants. The phenomenon is believed to be the brainchild of Br. Chad McCoy of St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago. Br. Chad is a moderator for the Crusaders for Life teen pro-life club, many of whose members belong to the parish.
The club’s first “flash mob” was coordinated in response to Chicago’s “Walk for Choice” February 26. The group also organized a hugely successful flash mob on short notice to counter a group of pro-abortion activists who protested the Tribute Dinner honoring the League’s own Joe Scheidler on April 4. Since then, the concept has spread to other cities across the country, with pro-life flash mobs having taken place in Austin, Sacramento, and even Hollywood.
In an August 17 LifeSiteNews story about the pro-life “flash mob” phenomenon, League Executive Director Eric Scheidler remarked, “The abortion industry has sought for years to demonize pro-lifers, and many in the public have accepted that false picture uncritically. Now these vibrant, optimistic, cheering flash mobs are demolishing the abortion lobby’s propaganda.”