Pro-Life Advocates Challenge Free Speech Limits at DC Planned Parenthood
by Steven Ertelt
June 7, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Planned Parenthood in the nation’s capital has put up a fence around public property and threatened to arrest members of the pro-life community who attempt to pray and counsel at its abortion center there. For years, people were allowed to pray, counsel and maintain a pro-life witness.
That has changed with the fence, but the Christian Defense Coalition has applied for a permit to hold a prayer vigil on the public sidewalk leading to the entrance of Planned Parenthood.
Now, D.C. police officers have threatened to arrest people involved in reaching out to women heading to the abortion facility.
However, local pro-life advocates say they will proceed with a prayer vigil that will take place on Tuesday morning.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, the CDC director, told LifeNews.com, "It is both disturbing and a disgrace that prayer and free speech have been banned and prohibited here in our nation’s capital."
"For many years, peaceful pro-life activists were allowed to pray, counsel and share on the public sidewalk and property in front of Planned Parenthood," he added. "Now after putting up a fence around that public property, the Washington, D.C. Police Department is threatening to arrest anyone who steps inside that fence to pray and counsel. Yet, that sidewalk and property still remain public."
About the Tuesday event, Mahoney added, "Our hope is that the city of Washington, D.C. will honor and respect the First Amendment and allow us to celebrate our free speech rights in the nation’s capital."
"However, even if we are threatened with arrest and taken to jail will not be bullied or intimidated into silence or surrender. When free speech and public prayer are banned and prohibited, it is the duty of people of faith to peacefully challenge that injustice and boldly take a stand," he said.
Mahoney concluded, "Dr. Martin Luther King stated, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ If we allow the trampling of the First Amendment here in Washington, D.C., then free speech rights are at risk all across America."
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