General Recap & Update (Winter 2005)

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. Represented by the ACLU, he appealed to the Florida Supreme Court who ruled “Terri’s Law” unconstitutional.

In the meantime, the Schindlers filed a motion, based on the Pope’s recent  statement concerning euthanasia and care of the medically dependent, arguing that Terri, a Catholic, would want to follow Church teaching and would not choose death by starvation. The trial court denied the motion, and its order was then appealed. On December 29, the court of appeal affirmed the lower court’s denial without even taking arguments from Michael. For updates, see http://www.terrisfight.org.

Estavillo v. Romo and West (Yolo County, Calif.)—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. Victory!: case settled.

Mason et al. v. Wolf (Denver)—Picketers and leafletters arrested at University of Denver. Civil suit filed. Summary judgment denied. 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 granting of demur on a technicality. Appellate hearing set for December 20 to overturn dismissal.

O’Toole v. Foothill/De Anza Community College District (Cupertino, Calif.)—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. Case resolved with monetary settlement and expungement of arrest record.

Cano v. Bolton (Georgia)—Sandra Cano and Norma McCorvey have filed to re-open their Roe v. Wade cases. Norma McCorvey, who is now pro-life and regrets her role in the original case, is hoping to overturn the high court’s decision saying new information the court did not have shows how abortion hurts women physically and emotionally. In October, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied McCorvey’s Rule 60 motion asking the Unites States Supreme Court to reverse the case based on a change in circumstances following the decision. That new information consists of 5,347 pages of affidavits submitted by women who have had abortions and who now regret their decision. They cite a host of emotional and medical problems associated with the abortions. Because the appeals court denied McCorvey’s motion, the only option left is to take the case to the Supreme Court—which handed down the landmark abortion decision. A petition for writ of certiorari is due by January 17. Alan Parker, president of the Justice Foundation and lead counsel in the case will file the petition and the Supreme Court will determine whether or not it will hear the case. LLDF will be filing a amicus curiae brief in support of the petition.

McCullough v. Arthur (Long Beach, Calif.)—Pro-lifers arrested for leafleting and holding signs on public sidewalk adjacent to public high school. The school’s principal contends the speech was “offensive to minors.” Videotape of the incident was unlawfully seized by the police but later returned. A civil action was filed against police and the principal, and a preliminary injunction was granted. The ninth circuit affirmed the order on appeal. The case is now back in the district court with a trial date of July 5, 2005.

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. Depositions in progress.

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. Summary judgment motion granted against plaintiffs based on qualified immunity of police.

People v. Cain (New York)—Pro-lifer arrested under N.Y. F.A.C.E. law for tossing caustic substance (blessed holy water) at building. Victory!: charges dismissed. People v. Rudnick (Wisconsin)— Pro-lifer handing out literature at high school arrested for disorderly conduct. Motion hearing December 13; decision pending.

People v. White (Washington, D.C.)—Pro-lifer arrested for display of human remains. Pro-life defendant maintains unborn child is fully human; according to federal law child is not fully human. This is the conflict the prosecution must resolve. Government has ordered an autopsy on baby. Trial set for March 2, 2005.

People v. Mason (Golden, Colo.)—Prolifers picketing in front of a college falsely charged with obstructing a police officer and trespass. Victory!: charges dismissed.

McCullough v. Kelly (Santa Monica, Calif.)—Pro-lifer arrested and held in jail overnight for holding signs on public sidewalk outside public high school. Civil suit filed. Case settled with monetary settlement and expungement of arrest record.

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 and discovery is underway.

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 feet from the school. No charges filed. Civil action filed. Motion for preliminary injunction taken under submission pending outcome of mediation.

People v. Enyart (Redlands, Calif.)—Pro-lifers arrested on sidewalk outside high school for distributing literature and talking to students, after police officer deems this “causing a disturbance.” No criminal charges filed. Claim filed against city.

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. Trial set for January 2005.

People v. Logsdon (Cincinnati, Ohio)—Clinic owner removes pro-lifer’s sign from fence and refuses to return it to its owner. When sign owner enters property and retrieves his sign, clinic owner calls police. Pro-lifer convicted of trespass. Case on appeal.

Franklin et al. v. Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles (Los Angeles)—Law suit against PP for illegal employment practices and violations of non-profit tax-exemption laws. Michael Logsdon v. Haines et al. (Cincinnati, Ohio)— Pro-lifer sues police and clinic for trespass of private property (taking his signs) under Ohio law.

Krug v. Billings Montana (Billings, Mont.)—Pro-life sidewalk counselors were arrested on separate occasions; all criminal charges were dismissed. False arrest suit pending.

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.