Pro-Lifers arrested outside abortion mill score a huge court victory

FamilyMan88, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The attacks on Pro-Lifers from both abortion activists and the government are on the rise.

But some Pro-Life activists are fighting back – and winning.

And these Pro-Lifers who were arrested outside an abortion mill just scored a huge court victory.

These days it seems everyone from Planned Parenthood to Antifa and even federal, state, and local law enforcement have put targets on the backs of Pro-Life activists.

The First Amendment protects Pro-Lifers’ public advocacy

But many Pro-Life activists aren’t taking the assaults lying down.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of David Benham and members of two Pro-Life organizations who were arrested or cited for engaging in peaceful prayer and sidewalk counseling outside an abortion facility.

And now the case has been settled in a huge victory for Pro-Life activists everywhere.

Mecklenburg County, North Carolina officials have finally conceded that the First Amendment in fact does protect the Pro-Life activists public advocacy, and their Constitutional First Amendment rights.

As part of the settlement agreement, county officials were forced to admit that “peaceful advocacy on public sidewalks and public streets is governed generally by First Amendment law regarding free speech in a traditional public forum.”

Using COVID as an excuse

And in a major victory going forward, county officials stated any future emergency order related to COVID will expressly allow outdoor religious gatherings and “activities of sidewalk prayer and related peaceful Pro-Life advocacy.” 

This is exactly what Benham, President of the Pro-Life charity Cities4Life, and the other Pro-Life activists from the Christian ministry Love Life, were engaged in.

“The government can protect public health and safety and still respect the Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms Americans have,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life.

Harle continued, “From the beginning, this case has been about the government silencing people because it didn’t like their point of view. People of faith can’t be singled out for their religious beliefs or because their form of speech happens to be prayer or Pro-Life counseling.” 

“We commend Mecklenburg County officials for finally agreeing to respect the free speech rights of Mr. Benham and the other Pro-Life citizens and for acknowledging their freedom to pray and speak in the public square, and we invite the city of Charlotte to follow suit,” he stated.

No arrests should have happened

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit against Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte in April 2020.

Before the lawsuit, they sent a letter to city officials stating that the arrests should never have occurred because those arrested had complied with all applicable emergency orders and proclamations related to COVID. 

Prosecutors dropped all charges against the Pro-Lifers just a few months later.

In light of the settlement with Mecklenburg County, ADF lawyers filed a dismissal of the county from the case.

But Benham v. City of Charlotte, is still active against the city of Charlotte. 

Also in the settlement, Mecklenburg County officials agreed to pay $20,000 of the Pro-Life organizations’ attorneys’ fees.

This victory shows that Pro-Life activists can fight back, and even win, in the all important battle over First Amendment rights.

Pro-Life Press will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.