General Recap & Update (Summer 2004)

Schiavo v. Schindler (Florida)—Michael Schiavo seeks court permission to kill his 37-year-old wife, Terri, by withdrawing food. Terri’s parents oppose the motion; several doctors have expressed the opinion that her condition could improve with appropriate treatment, which Michael has refused to allow. After trial court judge ordered her feeding tube removed, Governor Bush and Florida legislature passed “Terri’s Law”— which has resulted in a temporary delay of Terri’s starvation. Michael Schiavo continues to push hard for the right to starve Terri. Now represented by the ACLU, he is challenging “Terri’s Law.” Florida Supreme Court agrees to hear case August 31, 2004. For updates, see www.terrisfight.org.

Foti v. Planned Parenthood/Planned Parenthood v. Foti (San Mateo)—This legal stand-off between Planned Parenthood and three sidewalk counselors ended in July, after six years of litigation, two separate lawsuits, and three trips to the court of appeal.

The parties agreed to a stipulated injunction, binding both sides to refrain from certain conduct. While Mr. Foti agreed to stay a certain number of feet from the clinic, he is allowed to place signs on the sidewalk in front of the clinic. Planned Parenthood agreed that its escorts will not interfere with Mr. Foti’s attempt to communicate his message by speech or signs.

Women’s Resource Network v. Gourley (Sacramento)—Constitutional challenge to state system for authorizing specialty license plates. Legislature has refused to authorize “Choose Life” specialty plates promoting adoption, while authorizing plates promoting and benefiting other causes. Victory! Preliminary injunction issued; plaintiffs’ summary judgment entered. Briefs available at http://www.freespeechdefense.com.

Estavilla v. Romo and West (Yolo County)— Fetal homicide suit for injury and constitutional violations includes two issues: 1) wrongful death statute is unconstitutional because it denies equal protection to babies killed in utero; and 2) interference with the right to privacy and reproductive rights includes interference with the right to carry a pregnancy to term, not just to have an abortion. Case settled with West and default entered against Romo.

Mason et al. v. Wolf (Denver)—Picketers and leafletters arrested at University of Denver. Civil suit filed. Summary judgement motion fully briefed and decision pending. Trial set for February 7, 2005.

Pedigo v. Hershey (California)— Amniocentesis detrimentally used on pre-born child with improper consent. Civil suit filed; on appeal from sustanining of demurrer on a technicality. Briefs filed.

People v. Moorissey (New York)—Pro-lifer enters clinic to warn client has eaten recently and risks aspiration complications, charged with criminal trespass, misbehavior, and harassment. Moorissey pled to a non-criminal infraction of trespass which resulted in no sentence.

O’Toole v. Foothill/De Anza Community College District (Cupertino)—Pro-lifers arrested and signs confiscated on public college campuses after they displayed signs disapproved of by the administration. Charges not filed. Civil action filed against college district.

Kelly v. Orange (Calif.)—Nurse Karen Kelly, who was fired for not violating her pro-life convictions, sued the County of Orange for wrongful termination and religious discrimination. Ninth circuit court of appeal decision pending.

Cano v. Bolton (Georgia)—Sandra Cano and Norma McCorvey have filed to reopen their Roe v. Wade cases. LLDF filed amicus brief in support of effort.

O’Toole v. San Diego Community College District—Pro-lifer arrested and held for carrying sign on public college campus; he was released two days later, without having been cited. Claim filed and rejected. Civil suit filed. Demurrer overruled and discovery is underway.

Milton et al. v. Serrata (San Francisco)— Pro-lifers arrested or threatened with arrest for holding signs on public university campus. No criminal charges filed. Civil action filed. Discovery underway; depositions taken.

People v. Arvela (Stockton)—sidewalk counselor charged with erecting a sign in the city. Victory!: charges found unconstitutional and case was dismissed.

People v. Cain (New York)—Pro-lifer arrested under N.Y. FACE law for tossing caustic substance [blessed holy water] at building. Trial pending.

People v. Rusnick (Wisconsin)—Pro-lifer handing out literature at high school arrested for disorderly conduct. Case pending.

People v. White (Washington, D.C.)— Pro-lifer arrested for display of human remains. Charges filed.

Mahoney v. New York City and Boston— Cities delay/denies issuance of demonstration permits for Democratic and Republican National Conventions; civil suit filed. Cities contact pro-lifers to meet and resolve problems. Pro-lifers drafted approved D.N.C. permit scheme for convention. N.Y.C. resolution pending.

People v. Mason (Golden, Colo.)—Picketing in front of a college, pro-lifers falsely charged with obstructing a police officer. Charges filed.

McCullough v. Kelly (Santa Monica)— pro-lifer arrested and held in jail overnight for holding signs on public sidewalk outside public high school. Civil suit filed. City agreed to monetary settlement and expungement of arrest record. School principal filed motion to dismiss.

Ford v. North Orange County Community College District (Calif.)—Pro-lifers subjected to unconstitutional restrictions on speech on public community college campuses, including being told that the “free speech area” was a flooded, partially fenced off area with virtually no student traffic. Failure to leave the campus led to arrests. No charges filed, civil action filed against the District. Demurrer overruled.

Moreno v. Los Gatos (Calif.)—Pro-lifers arrested for picketing and distributing literature on public sidewalk outside high school. Police told them they had to stay 1,000 yards from the school. No charges filed. Civil action filed. City has filed a motion to dismiss.

People v. Enyart (Redlands)—Pro-lifers arrested on sidewalk outside high school for distributing literature and talking to students, after police officer deems this “causing a disturbance.” D.A. is reviewing charges. People v. Mason (Las Vegas, Nev.)—After a day of sidewalk counseling at an abortion mill and being told by police they were not violating the law pro-lifers were charged with trespass as they were leaving.

Author: Life Legal

The Life Legal Defense Foundation is a non-profit law firm that specializes in the defense of vulnerable human life, especially life in the womb.