Obama’s Justice Dept. Wages Low-Grade War on Pro-Life Activists

Sidewalk counselor Dick Retta, 80, stands outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Washington, DC. Retta has been sued by the Justice Department under the FACE Act.

Since taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama has lost the support of a lot of people, but one constituency he has never upset is the radical pro-choice movement.

That’s why no one should be surprised when, for example, Obama makes a promotional video for Planned Parenthood Action Fund from inside the White House.

And neither should we be surprised that Obama, through his Department of Justice, continues to wage a low-grade war on the First Amendment rights of pro-life activists across the U.S.

Post-Abortive Sidewalk Counselor Sued under FACE Act

Consider, for example, the case of Mary Susan Pine.

Pine, who herself had an abortion years ago, has been a sidewalk counselor in West Palm Beach, Florida for over a decade.

In 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder filed a lawsuit against Pine, claiming she had violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

What did Pine do to warrant the lawsuit? Physically restrain women on their way into an abortion clinic? Chain herself to the door?

Not quite. On November 29, 2009 — coindidentally, the anniversary of Pine’s abortion — she was sidewalk counseling as usual, and according to a police officer:

A green sedan began to enter the PWC premises through the exit driveway. As soon as Ms. Pine noticed the sedan, she “quickly started to walk faster towards the car” and stopped at the front side, causing the vehicle to stop. Immediately after the vehicle came to a stop, Ms. Pine approached the driver’s window. The driver rolled the window down, and Ms. Pine proceeded to solicit the male driver and the female passenger. At some point during the conversation, Ms. Pine handed the passengers a pamphlet through the open driver’s side window.

In other words, she was doing what hundreds of sidewalk counselors do outside hundreds of abortion clinics every day.

If you think the DOJ’s lawsuit against Pine was outrageous, you’re not alone. In dismissing Pine’s case earlier this year, Federal Judge Kenneth Ryskamp wrote, “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place.” Ryskamp also ordered the DOJ to pay Pine $120,000 to cover her legal expenses.

Justice Department Sues “Anti-Abortion Grandpa”

Then there’s the case of Dick Retta, referred to in a Washington Post headline as the “anti-abortion grandpa sued over alleged aggressive protests outside Washington clinic.”

Retta is 80 years old, and has been praying and sidewalk counseling outside a Washington, DC Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, located just three blocks from the White House, since 1998. He had recently retired, and saw a notice in a church paper inviting people to pray outside an abortion clinic — and he’s been doing it ever since.

By Retta’s count, he’s persuaded over 400 women to change their minds and not go through with abortion.

Like Pine, Retta was sued by the DOJ, which claims he violated the FACE Act on January 8, 2011 when, government lawyers argue, he blocked a woman from entering Planned Parenthood.

The government’s case against Retta doesn’t sound much stronger than their case against Pine. In Federal Judge James Boasberg’s words, “the Government’s Complaint could certainly benefit from the addition of some fuller factual allegations.”

It’s also interesting to note this observation Boasberg makes about the FACE Act:

The FACE Act prohibits individuals from committing certain intentional acts against “any person because that person is or has been, or in order to intimidate such person or any other person or class of persons from, obtaining or providing reproductive health services.” 18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(1). This language is admittedly somewhat ambiguous. [emphasis added]

Exactly.

With such ambiguous wording, is it any wonder the Justice Department of stridently pro-abortion President Barack Obama has been using it as a stick to beat pro-lifers?

Still, my hat is off to Dick Retta, who remains undaunted. The WaPo story ends thusly:

For his part, Retta says he’ll continue standing outside the clinic whatever the outcome.

“I can’t imagine not coming here,” he said.

Federal lawsuits be damned, Dick Retta is going to continue saving babies and their mothers from abortion.

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