You may recall in 2020 Life Legal brought your attention to the increasing number of cities enacting bubble zones outside of abortion clinics. These zones are designed to silence and intimidate pro-life sidewalk counselors.
What the abortion cartel did not anticipate was that the peaceful, courageous sidewalk counselors would not back down! In cities across the country, sidewalk advocates continued to pray and offer life-saving alternatives to pregnant women in desperate need of truth and hope.
When abortion workers realized passionate pro-lifers foiled their strategy, they turned to clinic escorts—“deathscorts”—with a new scheme to chill pro-life speech outside their death mills. Their strategy became if you can’t silence the pro-life message, then drown it out with car horns and loud music, threaten to harm sidewalk counselors, and, when possible, shove them off the sidewalk. If none of that works, call the police, make a false claim, and have the pro-lifers arrested. The deathscorts’ aggressive, often violent, tactics are at an all-time high!
Jackson, Mississippi—The heart of the battle.
Jackson, Mississippi is center stage in the fight to end abortion. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO) is the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. For more than a decade, Life Legal has fought to protect the rights of sidewalk counselors who minister outside the infamous “pink house.” Tensions have risen since the Mississippi legislature passed a law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation.1 Although the law is currently enjoined, meaning a court has blocked its implementation, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case on December 1, 2021. Although the Court has not issued a ruling at the time of this writing six justices seem willing to consider upholding the 15-week ban. This would significantly reduce the number of abortions in Mississippi and across the nation, drastically cutting into the profits Jackson Women’s Health makes from killing babies. Diminished business profits lead to business shutdowns.
As the Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s closure looms, pro-abortion advocates have ramped up their efforts to defend the “pink house.” Deathscorts routinely circle the abortion clinic in their vehicles honking horns, playing loud music, and threatening to run over sidewalk counselors. Yes, clinic supporters encourage deathscorts to use their vehicles to bulldoze through peaceful prayer warriors.
In October of 2021 deathscort Kim Gibson drove her car into an elderly sidewalk counselor and ran him over. Mark ended up in the hospital with a broken leg, a broken tooth, two small brain hemorrhages, and several bruises. Gibson is a co-founder of the pro-abortion group “WeEngage.” Life Legal has teamed up with some of our allies in Mississippi to ensure the local authorities prosecute the escorts responsible for these crimes.
New Orleans, Louisiana—An orchestrated conspiracy.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, a faithful group of sidewalk counselors have offered hope and healing to women outside the Women’s Health Care Center abortion clinic. Deathscorts are so outraged by their effective witness that they have formed an alliance to remove the pro-life advocates from the sidewalk. The New Orleans Abortion League trains the deathscorts to interfere with sidewalk counselors, to push them away, and to make it appear as though the counselors have illegally touched the deathscorts.
In fall of 2020, Jack* was a victim of their scheme. As Jack walked along the sidewalk, the pro-death entourage passed by him, and deathscort Linda Kocher pushed Jack with her shoulder, knocking him off the sidewalk. The deathscorts called the police and accused Jack of threatening Kocher! Life Legal worked with local attorneys to bring the truth to light and ultimately all criminal charges were dismissed!
A few months later, the deathscorts were at it again. With a calculated plan, they targeted two sidewalk counselors, John and Ray.* The deathscorts do not just position themselves in between the life-advocating counselors and the women seeking abortions; they push the counselors and then shout that they are the ones who have been touched. Both John and Ray hold signs and offer literature to abortion-minded women, which means they pose the biggest threat to the abortion clinic’s bottom dollar. The plan had been hatched and the net was soon cast.
It was only a matter of time before the false charges were filed. In two separate instances, John and Ray each held signs and approached the abortion-minded mothers who arrived at the clinic. They offered the women help and hope and pleaded with them to spare their children’s lives. In both situations, a deathscort quickly intervened, pushing their signs away and then abruptly shouting, “You pushed me, you pushed me.” In the same week, these deathscorts lodged battery claims against both John and Ray. Despite efforts by the pro-life sidewalk counselors to press charges against the deathscorts, neither the police nor the courts have investigated the matter further. Criminal charges are pending against both John and Ray. Life Legal has teamed up with our dedicated volunteer attorneys in New Orleans to get both unjust criminal cases dismissed and to rightfully pursue charges against the deathscorts who conspired to violate the rights of the pro-life advocates.
Napa, California—Our own backyard.
The violence hit home last year, as escorts and passersby escalated their attacks against sidewalk counselors outside the Napa Planned Parenthood. While deathscorts regularly block counselors from offering literature and talking to women, they don’t just use their bodies as physical barriers. These desperate pro-aborts have pushed and shoved pro-life advocates, put cameras in their faces, knocked over their signs, followed them to their cars, photographed them, shouted profanity in their faces, and yelled at them to stop praying.
The physical threats have come from all sides. People driving by the abortion clinic have thrown objects at prayerful pro-lifers, including a golf ball, tobacco can, and even a bottle. One person went so far as to steal a framed picture of Jesus! Life Legal is working with the police to hold the offenders liable for their criminal actions. We will not be intimidated, we will not be silenced, and we will seek all available legal remedies against the perpetrators.
Campus pro-life outreach is under attack too!
As colleges and high schools returned to in person learning, pro-life campus outreach resumed as well. Despite their peaceful presence, pro-life advocates were not welcomed with open arms.
When Project Truth and Tiny Heartbeat Ministries went to Western Washington University, they faced vitriol and hate. Pro-abortion radicals stole their signs, threw one sign in a water fountain, and broke another sign in half. That’s not the worst of it all. One student stabbed a sign with a knife; obliterating the sign and nearly injuring Andrew who was holding the sign at the time. Life Legal is working with the team of pro-life advocates to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished.
In Milwaukee, Nick and his team went to Riverside High School to share the truth about abortion to students on the public sidewalk outside the school. Two students ambushed Nick, punching him to the ground, then stomping his head while he lay in the street. Nick was rushed to the hospital and suffered a concussion. Though he had no recollection of the attack, the entire incident was captured on video. The principal of the school witnessed the vicious assault and simply stood by and watched as the violence unfolded. He did not stop the attack. He did not apprehend the assailants. He did not even call 911! While Nick is recovering from the brutal attack, Life Legal is in contact with attorneys in Milwaukee to pursue all legal options for Nick.
We must not relent.
The fervent prayers and diligent efforts of sidewalk counselors and life advocates has abortion promoters running scared. As their profit margins dwindle, their tactics to eliminate pro-life voices have become increasingly ruthless. Even in the face of this culture of death, we are encouraged by life advocates across the nation. Their message resounds: We will not cower to threats or intimidation. We will not fear false accusation. We will not be silenced from speaking truth and offering hope. We are on the verge of an historic revolution, and we will prevail!
1The Jackson Women’s Health Organization quickly filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the law. On December 1, 2021, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the much-anticipated case. The Court will decide whether laws restricting abortion should be adjudicated based on the viability of the child or by some other standard. A decision will be issued by June. See story at page 1.
[Published in Winter 2022 issue of Lifeline.]