Washington, DC Declares Sidewalk Outside Planned Parenthood Public Property
by Steven Ertelt
August 12, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Officials in the nation’s capital have declared a sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood abortion business as public property. The decision is important because a prominent pro-life advocate was arrested when he attempted to pray outside the abortion facility recently.
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.
The American Center for Law and Justice, who is representing Mahoney, met with Washington city officials who confirmed the sidewalk still remains public.
"We have learned today that the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General has concluded that the location is, in fact, public property and is available for use by the public," James Matthew Henderson, Sr, a top attorney with the ACLJ, told LifeNews.com Thursday morning.
That means Mahoney and other pro-life advocates "who have come there for more than a decade to pray, to offer help to women, and to express opposition to abortion services provided at that location by Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington" can resume praying, Henderson said.
Father Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, said today that 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.
"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 previously. "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."
"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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