General Recap & Update (Summer 2005)

Schiavo v. Schindler (Fla.)—After denying the Schindlers’ motion arguing that starving Terri to death would violate her religious beliefs and be contrary to her wishes as a Catholic, Judge Greer set the date of March 18 for removal of food and water. As the date neared and the state court appeals were all exhausted, efforts were made in both the Florida state legislature and the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to help Terri and other similarly situated individuals. No action was taken in the state legislature. Congress issued an investigative subpoena, but Judge Greer ignored it, and ordered that Terri’s tube be removed. Two days later, Congress passed a law allowing the Schindlers to bring an action in federal court presenting the evidence of Terri’s rights being violated. However, rather than looking at the issues and evidence anew as intended by Congress and President Bush, the federal district judge merely reviewed the state court proceedings, held the state court had not violated any constitutional provisions, and refused to order Terri’s tube reinserted. The court’s order was upheld on appeal. Similar legal efforts followed, but Terri died March 31, after thirteen days without food or water.

People’s Advocate v. Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (Calif.)—Suit for declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent expenditure of public funds for research focused on embryonic stem cells and cloning. See article this page.

Mason et al. v. Wolf (Denver)—Picketers and leafletters arrested at University of Denver. Civil suit filed. Summary judgment denied. Trial February 2005: Victory! Court held that pro-lifers’ rights were violated and that speech policy was unconstitutional and awarded damages.

Pedigo v. Hershey (Calif.)—Amniocentesis detrimentally used on pre-born child with improper consent. Civil suit filed. Victory: Appeal from dismissal order overturned. Case proceeding in trial court.

Cano v. Bolton (Ga.)—Sandra Cano and Norma McCorvey filed to re-open their Roe v. Wade cases. Norma McCorvey, who is now pro-life and regrets her role as Roe in the original case, hoped to overturn the high court’s decision saying new information the Court did not have in 1973 shows how abortion hurts women physically and emotionally. In October, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied McCorvey’s Rule 60 motion seeking reversal of 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. After denial of the motion by Fifth Circuit, plaintiffs file a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. LLDF filed an amicus brief in support of the petition, citing as a new circumstance the proliferation of “Baby Moses” laws. Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari.

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 and remanded the case to the trial court. Victory! Case settled for damages and attorney fees, permanent injunction, and expungement of arrest record.

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. Trial set for August 2005.

People v. Rudnick (Wis.)—Pro-lifer handing out literature at high school arrested for disorderly conduct. Trial has been adjourned without date.

People v. White (Washington, D.C.)—Pro-lifer arrested for display of human remains. Pro-life defendant maintained 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. After one month trial in April 2005, Victory! Defendant acquitted.

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. Victory: case settled for damages.

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.

Enyart et al. v. Redlands School District (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. Victory! Monetary settlement and expungement of arrest record.

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 July 2005.

Moreno v. Riverside Community College (Calif.)—Suit against public college for arrest of pro-lifers engaged in free speech activity. 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 appealed: Victory! convictions overturned.

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.

Mason v. Colorado School of Mines (Colo.)—Following successful defense of pro-lifer for alleged trespass on public property, civil suit filed against public university for violation of constitutional rights.

Roe v. Planned Parenthood (Ohio)—Civil suit against Planned Parenthood on behalf of parents alleging that their minor daughter was coerced into an abortion by an adult boyfriend with the cooperation of Planned Parenthood employees.

St. John’s Church v. Scott et al. (Colo.)—Pro-lifers sued for speech activity exposing abortion advocacy of local church.

People v. Coatney (Mich.)—Pro-lifer cited and convicted for parking violation for parking his privately-owned bus with pro-life signs near abortion clinic, not at a bus stop. When he parked it at a bus stop, he was again cited for illegal parking. Appeal pending.

People v. Cain (N.Y.)—sidewalk counselor arrested for the second time allegedly blocking the door. Victory! Case dismissed.

People v. Lindsley, et al. (San Bernardino)—Pro-lifers arrested for speech activityon public easement claimed by Planned Parenthood as its private property.

Bordeaux v. Long Beach Community College (Calif.)—Suit against public college for arrest of pro-lifers engaged in free speech activity.

New York City v. Cain (N.Y.)—Sidewalk counselor arrested for the third time allegedly for disorderly conduct. Criminal case pending.