Father James Linton was arrested last month outside the San Bernardino Planned Parenthood for offering to pray with women entering the abortion facility. Police held him for six hours and later charged him with criminal trespass. If convicted, Father Linton could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and a $400 fine.
When he was arrested, Father Linton, an Anglican pastor, was standing on a public easement offering incoming mothers and fathers alternatives to abortion and praying for them to change their minds. “The arrest of Father Linton is an outrageous violation of his First Amendment rights,” stated Allison Aranda, Senior Staff Counsel for the Life Legal Defense Foundation and a former prosecutor for Riverside County. “Father Linton simply offered assistance and alternatives to its patrons that could save the lives of their precious babies.”
Last year, Life Legal clients David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress released videos of their undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood. At the time, Father Linton’s wife was pregnant with their third child. “The combination of seeing abortion victims sorted through for parts and my wife being pregnant destroyed me,” Linton said. “She organized a protest and I’ve been in front of the clinic every Friday since.”
Every Friday, the San Bernardino Planned Parenthood facility performs abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Due in part to Father Linton’s faithful presence and success at saving babies, the abortion facility recently built a wall in an attempt to hinder sidewalk counselors and prevent them from speaking to mothers and fathers in the parking lot.
Father Linton and the other sidewalk counselors outside the San Bernardino Planned Parenthood are doing nothing more than exercising their Constitutional right to speak freely on the public sidewalk and rights of way in their community. They are not violating the law. “In fact, the code section under which Father Linton was charged specifically exempts from criminal liability those who are engaging in activities protected by the California and United States Constitutions,” Ms. Aranda noted.
Life Legal will vigorously defend Father Linton from these false charges and we will fight to preserve and protect the rights of all sidewalk advocates to share life saving information with mothers entering abortion facilities.