Pro-Life Advocates Challenge Prayer Ban in Front of DC Planned Parenthood
by Steven Ertelt
August 3, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A pastor who was arrested in June praying front of a Planned Parenthood abortion business in the nation’s capital is challenging what he says is an unconstitutional ban on his free speech. For years, pro-life advocates have been able to pray and counsel women heading to the Planned Parenthood abortion center.
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, but was arrested.
Now, pro-life activists supporting Mahoney will pray on the public sidewalk Saturday, August 14 as part of an event called "A Time to Stand" — even if it means arrest and going to jail.
This event also follows the recent arrest of a man in Chicago for praying in front of an abortion business there.
"On August 14, we are going to embrace free speech, the First Amendment and religious liberty and pray on the public sidewalk leading up to Planned Parenthood," Mahoney told LifeNews.com. "We will not be bullied or intimidated into silence."
"It is tragic that peaceful Americans are being threatened with arrest and actually being arrested for simply praying on a public sidewalk and offering women help who are facing a crisis pregnancy," he said. "It is unconscionable that the City of Washington, D.C. would ban and prohibit prayer and the First Amendment on a public sidewalk while protecting abortion and Planned Parenthood."
Mahoney says that although Planned Parenthood says the land is now "private" they have not produced one piece of evidence, documentation or notice showing the sidewalk is no longer public property.
The American Center for Law and Justice, who is representing Rev. Mahoney, met with Washington city officials who confirmed the sidewalk still remains public.
"The pro-life community wants to make it clear they will not be bullied or intimidated into surrendering their First Amendment rights even if that means going to jail for prayer and peaceful witness," he concluded.
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