Pro-Lifers Can Pray Outside Abortion Clinics, Stop Michigan Governor From Banning Free Speech

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 14, 2020   |   10:51AM   |   Lansing, Michigan

Pro-life sidewalk counselors may continue to stand outside abortion facilities in Michigan after a lawsuit forced Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to clarify that free speech still is allowed during the coronavirus crisis.

On March 31, police cited Andrew Belanger of ONElife for Life for doing pro-life outreach outside the Scotsdale Women’s Center and Family Planning abortion facility in Detroit, according to Christian News Network. He said police also threatened to arrest him if he refused to stop.

Belanger said he feels compelled to be on the sidewalk to offer women information about alternatives to abortion as long as abortion facilities are open. He filed a lawsuit against Whitmer, a pro-abortion Democrat, and the City of Detroit. The American Freedom Law Center represents him.

Last week, the governor’s office clarified that First Amendment expression is still allowed under her stay-at-home order, according to the report.

“Does Executive Order 2020-42 prohibit persons from engaging in outdoor activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?” her website now states. “No. Persons may engage in expressive activities protected by the First Amendment within the State of Michigan, but must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the person’s household.”

The American Freedom Law Center said it is pleased with the clarification, but it also would like the city to dismiss the citation against Belanger.

According to the lawsuit, one of the problems was that Whitmer’s order allowed “exceptions for individuals who walk, hike, run, or cycle on public sidewalks throughout the State of Michigan, but the order punishes Plaintiffs for using the very same public sidewalks for exercising their constitutional rights.”

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Belanger said he and other sidewalk counselors are practicing social distancing measures to keep people safe. When the police arrived on March 31, he said he was the only person on the sidewalk.

“Because abortion centers remain open in Michigan during this current pandemic, Plaintiffs are compelled by their consciences to engage in their expressive religious activities on the public sidewalks outside of abortion centers located throughout the state,” the lawsuit states.

The sidewalk counselors are helping save mothers and babies. According to the report, on the same day police cited Belanger, a woman walked out of the abortion facility and chose life for her unborn twins. The pro-lifers said she accepted information about resources available to pregnant and parenting families.

The Detroit abortion facility does not help mothers or babies. It destroys human lives by doing abortions up to 24 weeks when unborn babies are viable and capable of feeling pain.

In late March, pro-lifers spotted 80-year-old abortionist Franklyn Seabrooks entering the facility without any personal protective gear and failing to maintain the 6-foot social distancing requirement with people standing outside. Seabrooks has been disciplined multiple times, including for a botched abortion in which a baby was born alive, according to Operation Rescue.

Across the country, pro-life advocates have been arrested or threatened with arrest for praying and sidewalk counseling outside abortion facilities during the health crisis. Earlier this month, pro-life Christian David Benham was arrested while praying outside an abortion facility in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Pro-life sidewalk counselors also were arrested or cited in San Francisco, California and Greensboro, North Carolina within the past three weeks for allegedly violating stay-at-home orders.

Most states now have stay-at-home orders as well as temporary restrictions on non-essential medical procedures to conserve medical supplies and stop further spread of the coronavirus. However, pro-abortion Democrat leaders in several states are showing favoritism to the abortion industry, allowing abortion facilities to remain open to abort unborn babies in elective abortions.

Pro-life sidewalk counselors have said they will continue to stand outside these abortion facilities to pray and offer support as long as they remain open.