Attorneys from the Thomas More Society successfully defended pro-life sidewalk counselor Peggy McGinty against spurious trespass charges brought by the Sioux City Planned Parenthood. McGinty has been providing peaceful, pro-life sidewalk counseling outside Planned Parenthood’s Sioux City, Iowa facility for 14 years. In December 2013, Planned Parenthood persuaded city authorities to bring criminal trespass charges against her after she drove into its parking lot and quickly turned around. Thomas More Society attorneys won a dismissal of her case last week, on May 22, without trial, when Planned Parenthood’s witness failed to appear.
“We are always ready and honored to provide pro-lifers with timely, strong, and reliable legal defense,” said Martin Cannon, attorney for Thomas More Society-Omaha. “When slammed with false criminal charges, Ms. McGinty and other peaceful pro-lifers need not be left defenseless against such intimidating tactics on the part of Planned Parenthood, which takes delight in threatening pro-lifers with fines and jail time and urges authorities, as in this case, to bring false charges which it then fails to back up.”
McGinty has regularly engaged in pro-life sidewalk counseling in Sioux City, where she works with Mary’s Choice, a crisis pregnancy center that shares a property line with the abortion facility. Planned Parenthood has tried to frustrate the pro-lifers by erecting a very tall, opaque fence around its property, to prevent sidewalk counselors from seeing or communicating with abortion-bound women who enter the lot.
Mary’s Choice, however, countered this tactic by building an elevated platform on its own side of the fence so that counselors could offer assistance to women heading for the abortion facility.
On a very cold morning last December 6, McGinty was ill and couldn’t be there for her counseling. But, she said, “I don’t want the babies to die alone.” She drove to the clinic to find out if it was open before she called sidewalk counselors to take her place. Because of the tall fence, McGinty couldn’t see whether there were any cars in Planned Parenthood’s parking lot, and the gate to the elevated platform on the Mary’s Choice side was frozen to the ground.
McGinty drove into the Planned Parenthood lot to see if there were cars there. There were no “No Trespassing” signs posted. However, as she entered the parking lot to quickly turn around, the Planned Parenthood security guard zoomed out in his car from behind the building, blocking her exit. She signaled to him to roll down his window, but he refused, calling police instead and lying to them that she was a repeat offender. Then McGinty was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
On May 22, McGinty, Cannon, and local pro-life attorney Zachary Hindman appeared in court, prepared for trial. Planned Parenthood’s security guard, who had blocked McGinty and called the police, had been directed to appear in court for the trial. But he never showed up, and the case was dismissed. Sioux City’s prosecutor is wiser now and will likely scrutinize the abortionists’ complaints more carefully before bringing new criminal charges against pro-lifers.