Defending babies is our primary mission. However, oftentimes we find ourselves defending the freedom to defend, as well.
In the wake of the Center for Medical Progress videos last year, we formed the #ProtestPP coalition with Eric Scheidler of Pro-Life Action League and Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-life Society. That coalition led to one hundred thousand citizens taking to the streets to decry Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts.
In Columbus, #ProtestPP led to a consistent presence beginning last October outside our local Planned Parenthood facility where babies are killed. In the final two and a half months of last year alone, this ministry saw 44 women turn away from Planned Parenthood—nine of whom went on to provide confirmation they would not kill their babies.
Not surprisingly, local abortionists, facility staff, lobbyists, and others are not pleased with this loss of business. While on our summer Justice Ride, we received word the Columbus (Ohio) City Council was poised to enact an ordinance sponsored by a staunchly pro-abortion council member. This ordinance was set to make it illegal to “annoy” someone within 15 feet of an abortion facility.
We immediately rose to challenge the ordinance. We knew this vague language would be used against us, since our life-saving efforts siphon business away from abortion facilities and certainly “annoy” them. We spoke at the ordinance’s hearing, testified before the council prior to their vote, and also joined private meetings with individual council members.
We were not alone. The Columbus Police Department and the ACLU of Ohio joined our opposition. The police challenged the enforceability of the ordinance. The ACLU, normally bosom buddies with the abortion lobby, called it an “unacceptable barrier to free speech.”
In the end, we succeeded in neutering the ordinance. It only passed after the sponsor added an amendment to remove the vague language, instead copying and pasting language from the city’s disorderly conduct code.
This does raise the penalty for disorderly conduct outside abortion facilities, but we do not engage in that type of behavior.