Pro-Lifers To Risk Arrest Defending The 1st Amendment At Illegally Fenced Planned Parenthood

UPDATE: Rev. Patrick Mahoney was arrested on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, for “unlawful entry” as he protested on a public sidewalk outside a Washington, D.C. Planned Parenthood. Rev. Mahoney told reporters that he plans to sue the city for allowing the fence around what was previously determined to be public property. We will bring you more as this breaking story unfolds.

Washington, DC – Police in Washington, D.C. are threatening to arrest peaceful pro-lifers if they pray and protest on the public sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood.

In 1999, Operation Rescue involved in litigation with the Justice Department discovered that the property in front of the Planned Parenthood building, including the sidewalk leading up to the door, was public. Since then, for over a decade, pro-lifers have peacefully offered help to abortion bound women on the public sidewalk leading to the door of the abortion clinic.

However, a few weeks ago, Planned Parenthood took it upon itself to fence in the public property even though the public status of the property remains unchanged. Signs posted along the illegal fence falsely indicate that the property is private.

“We just woke up one morning and there was a fence. Now the police are threatening to make arrests on any pro-lifer who walks on the fenced portion of the public sidewalk. This is a complete violation of the First Amendment, and cannot be allowed to stand,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “The fence is impeding the ability of sidewalk counselors to offer help to abortion-bound women, which often persuades them to save the lives of their pre-born babies. Because innocent lives are at stake, this illegal fence must come down.”

Newman was involved in the 1999 litigation where it was discovered that Planned Parenthood’s building was set up against their property line. Several pro-life leaders were sued under the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrance Act by then-Attorney General Janet Reno. The pro-lifers won that law suit.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition will lead a group of Christians who will challenge this unjust infringement of the First Amendment. Below is an excerpt from a press release issued by the Christian Defense Coalition:

The Christian Defense Coalition is challenging this unconstitutional crushing of prayer and free speech and has applied for a permit to hold a prayer vigil on the public sidewalk leading up to Planned Parenthood.

That prayer vigil will take place on Tuesday, June 8, at 11:00 A.M. at Planned Parenthood 1108 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C.

Faith leaders will risk arrest before they surrender their First Amendment rights or allow prayer to be banned on the public sidewalk in the heart of our nation’s capital.

“While we cannot be in Washington, D.C. for this important challenge, Operation Rescue fully supports it,” said Newman. “Our thoughts and prayers will be with the brave men and women who will risk arrest for freedom and the lives of innocent babies.”