General Recap & Update (Fall 2013)


People v. Reeves (Calif.)—Sidewalk counselor arrested for trespass in public parking lot near Planned Parenthood in Sacramento. Victory!: Charges dismissed.

Huntsville v. Fecteau (Alabama)—71- year-old grandmother and sidewalk counselor arrested for purported harassment and accused of spraying holy water in the direction of two pro-abort protesters. Victory!: Judge found Ms. Fecteau not guilty of harassment.

Kansas v. White (Wichita, Kan.)—Prolife activist arrested for trespassing on a public college campus. Butler College administrators told the activists that their free speech activity was restricted to a small, remote area on the outskirts of campus. The campus life team went to the free speech area where they observed few to no passersby. Mr. White declined to stand in a place where his life saving message would not reach a single person. Butler College police arrested Mr. White for trespassing. Victory!: Charges dismissed.

People v. Foti and Hathaway (San Francisco)—Sidewalk counselors cited for multiple alleged violations of sign law and “Mother May I” no-approach law, as well as disturbing the peace. Citations dismissed. (One charge still pending on alleged violation of amplified sound ordinance for playing Christmas carols on portable CD player.)

CASES TO WATCH: Alabama Board of Health v. All Women’s, et al. (Ala.)—As NWAW violates Alabama Dept. of Public Health Closure, LLDF filed complaint against NWAW for operating an unlicensed abortion center. LLDF filed amicus in support of ADPH. Court found that abortionist Bruce Norman was performing abortions unlawfully without a license and issued a permanent injunction. Abortionist Norman filed a motion for reconsideration. LLDF filed an amicus brief opposing Norman’s motion.Motion for Reconsideration denied October 3, 2012. Defendant has 42 days from that date to appeal.

McCullen v. Coakley (Mass.)—The case began in 2007, when Massachusetts passed a law prohibiting “entering or remaining” within 35 feet of abortion clinic entrances. The law contains exceptions for patients, clinic employees, and persons merely passing through the zone to get to another destination. The undisputed target of the bill was pro-life sidewalk counselors who attempt to bring their lifeaffirming message directly to women seeking abortions. The law was challenged in federal court, but both the District Court and the First Circuit ruled the law constitutional. When the plaintiffs appealed to the United States Supreme Court, LLDF filed an amicus brief on behalf of itself and Pastor Walter Hoye urging the Court to review the case. In June, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear the case. Life Legal Defense Foundation then filed a second amici curiae (friends of the court) brief in the Supreme Court. The brief argues, inter alia, that speech restrictions targeted at abortion clinics are de facto content and viewpoint based laws and thus inconsistent with the First Amendment. [Read more starting on page 1 of this issue of Lifeline.]

In re Kline—Former Kansas Attorney General accused of violating state ethics rules while investigating abortion providers. While Kline served as district attorney in 2007, a district judge reviewed Kline’s evidence and found probable cause to believe that Planned Parenthood committed 107 criminal acts including falsifying abortion records to cover up illegal late term abortions. Kline filed charges against Planned Parenthood the next day. Kline’s dogged investigation and prosecution of Planned Parenthood for these illegal acts and for its cover-up of statutory rape of young girls contributed to the abortion giant being defunded by some states and local governments, and even endangered its receipt of $350 million in federal funding. Planned Parenthood and the Kansas Supreme Court, consisting largely of appointees of rabidly proabortion Kathleen Sebelius, filed ethics complaints against Kline in May 2012. Kline and his attorneys, supported by LLDF, stated the ethics complaint was politically motivated and Kline filed exceptions to the claims. Kline’s filings forced five of the seven Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from Kline’s case, which was argued before a reconstituted court in November 2012. During the hearing held at the Supreme Court, a law clerk working with the Kansas Court of Appeals publicly tweeted derogatory comments about Kline and predicted that Kline would lose his law license. The attorney has since been fired and the Court announced that it would investigate its attorney staff for unprofessional conduct and bias. That investigation is still pending. The criminal charges against Planned Parenthood were dismissed after it was learned that the administration of then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius destroyed records under criminal subpoena implicating Planned Parenthood of criminal conduct. The Sebelius Administration was never investigated for its conduct. The case against Phill Kline is still awaiting decision from the court.

HHS Mandate litigation—LLDF, in conjunction with the Bioethics Defense Fund, is filing amicus briefs, both at the district and appellate court levels, in many of the cases challenging the HHS contraceptive abortifacient mandate. Our brief demonstrates that the Government’s argument that contraceptives promote women’s health is based on evidence that is inaccurate, incomplete, irrelevant, and/or biased. Moreover the government entirely failed to consider the harmful effects of hormonal contraceptives on women’s health before mandating no-cost coverage of these drugs in virtually every insurance plan. For these reasons, the Government cannot meet its burden under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of showing that the Mandate furthers a compelling governmental interest. Following conflicting rulings in the various circuit courts, both plaintiffs and the Government have filed petitions for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. At the appropriate time, LLDF will file an amicus brief in whichever case or cases the Supreme Court takes.