Pro-Life Pastor Arrested at Washington, DC Planned Parenthood Abortion Ctr
by Steven Ertelt
June 9, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — For years, pro-life advocates have been able to pray and counsel women heading to the Planned Parenthood abortion center in the nation’s capital. That changed when the abortion business built a fence around the center and posted signs saying those who went beyond the fence were trespassing.
Patrick Mahoney, a pastor who heads the Christian Defense Coalition, challenged those signs on Tuesday.
He said Planned Parenthood wrongly obtained a permit allowing it to prevent pro-life people from going to areas that he believes are public property protected by First Amendment free speech rights.
"The city of Washington, D.C., is threatening to arrest citizens for praying on a public sidewalk," Mahoney said as he walked past the fence and began kneeling and praying on what had formerly been a public sidewalk leading to the front door of the abortion facility.
Men and women who have prayed here for years have been threatened with arrest," Mahoney told the crowd as he kneeled. "We’re going to pray here today! And if it means going to jail, then we’re going to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against D.C. in order to keep praying!
After giving Mahoney 10 minutes to pray and calling their superiors to confirm he was trespassing on private property, police arrested Mahoney in front of a slew of cameras and reporters for unlawful entry.
Diane Quest, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, told CQ that "We’re not blocking what they want to say. We’re preventing them from trespassing onto private property."
Jim Henderson, Mahoney’s lawyer, told CQ that police officials showed him a map claiming the sidewalk is on private property, but he plans to file a lawsuit against the city of Washington saying otherwise and protecting Mahoney’s free speech rights.
"This is just the beginning," he said.
Erick Whittington of the pro-life youth group Rock for Life, also chimed in on the event.
"Pat has been in discussion since this fence went up with the American Center for Law & Justice and they are confident that nothing regarding the property behind the fence has changed. According to Planned Parenthood it is now private property and they do not want pro-lifers behind the fence," he said.
He said of his conversations with the local media, " brought up the fact that Planned Parenthood is trying to take public property and claim it as their own. If we give them that inch they will take a mile. If we don’t stand up and say no to this what will happen next?"
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