Kansas Court Scraps Charges Against Women on Free Speech Rights on Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
August 13, 2009
Overland Park, KS (LifeNews.com) — A Kansas court has thrown out charges against a woman who wants to assert her free speech rights to help women outside the Planned Parenthood abortion business in Overland Park.
In March, Overland Park filed criminal charges against Kansas City Catholic Diocese employee Carrie Kafka.
City officials sued her saying she violated a city ordinance by allegedly obstructing traffic entering and leaving the abortion center’s parking lot even though video evidence proves she never obstructed traffic.
The pro-life legal group Alliance Defense Fund handled Kafka’s case and attorney Daniel Blomberg appeared in court to defend her.
A judge dismissed criminal charges Wednesday against Kafka.
At the trial, Blomberg argued that officers should not have arrested Kafka because she never violated the ordinance and, before citing and arresting her, city police failed to first order Kafka to cease her conduct and leave, which the ordinance clearly requires.
The city interpreted the ordinance to mean that any presence in public roads, sidewalks, or driveways that had the potential to delay access amounted to an illegal obstruction. Such an interpretation, however, would outlaw a variety of acceptable and legal activities, from slow-moving pedestrians to any sort of free speech activity.
Blomberg had also filed a motion to dismiss prior to trial that challenged the unconstitutional vagueness of the ordinances language.
The Overland Park Municipal Court did not comment on the constitutionality of the ordinance but agreed that Kafka should not have been arrested and dismissed the charges against her in City of Overland Park v. Kafka.
Pro-life advocates shouldn’t be arrested on trumped-up charges and denied their free speech rights, Blomberg said. We are pleased that the court dismissed the charges against Ms. Kafka so she can once again exercise her First Amendment rights.
ADF attorneys are considering their options with regard to a possible federal lawsuit that would challenge the city ordinance.
Nearly every Friday and Saturday for several years, without incident, pro-life advocates have stood on a public sidewalk next to a Planned Parenthood parking lot to share information with women seeking or considering abortions when they pulled into the driveway.
Kafka has participated personally on a monthly basis for over a year in helping women find abortion alternatives.
Careful not to trespass or obstruct traffic from entering or exiting the Planned Parenthood abortion center, Kafka peacefully offered pregnant women educational material to help them make an informed choice.
She only interacted with those willfully stopping their cars in the driveway and inviting dialogue.
In March, Kafka was arrested without warning by Overland Park Police for criminal trespass, even though she never entered onto Planned Parenthood property, ADF officials said. Because of this fact, the charge was quickly changed to allege that Kafka obstructed vehicles entering and leaving the parking lot.
Security video from the scene shows that Kafka never entered private property and that she never prevented vehicles from entering or exiting the clinic, but in fact encouraged drivers to move on when vehicles approached from behind, ADF contends.
ADF attorneys argue that not only is the citys obstruction ordinance unconstitutionally vague, but that officers should not have arrested Kafka because she never violated the ordinance and, before citing and arresting her, they failed to first order Kafka to cease her conduct and leave as the ordinance clearly requires.
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.telladf.org
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