Fight To Defend Life Continues Through Time of Crisis – Back in Court Defending Those Who Are Saving the Lives of Unborn Babies
Even with the nation and the world hunkering down and sheltering in place to escape a global pandemic, our pro-life work at the ACLJ continues amid the crisis. Just as the forces that devalue life in its most defenseless stages are taking no rest from their destructive work, neither can we stop being there to counter their efforts.
Whether it’s filing briefs at the Supreme Court on critical life issues, or exposing the macabre extent to which Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses are seeking to label themselves “essential” in order to avoid restrictions on elective procedures, we remain engaged in the public arena and the courts through ongoing litigation on behalf of those who continue to try to bring a message of life and hope.
One such piece of litigation is our case against the City of Englewood, New Jersey, on behalf of pro-life sidewalk counselor, Jeryl Turco. We’ve reported on this case numerous times: here, where we announced our victory in U.S. District Court in 2017 in which the Court struck down as unconstitutional the city’s buffer zone law; and here, where we summarized the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the District Court and described our efforts to have that decision reversed. Unfortunately, that appeals court decision still stands. Now we’ve been directed to be in District Court today (via phone, of course, due to the coronavirus shutdown of the courts) to hear from the Court where we go from here. We anticipate we’ll be trying this case soon after the courts reopen – whenever that may be.
We continue to maintain that – as the District Court found in 2017 – the City violated the First Amendment back in 2014 when it imposed a restrictive buffer-zone around the Metropolitan Medical Associates’ up-to-24-weeks abortion business. We believe, as we’ve been arguing since then, that the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in McCullen v. Coakley mandates that the City’s ordinance be struck down as an unconstitutional infringement of our client’s Free Speech right to share the pro-life message in a peaceful, non-confrontational manner with vulnerable women approaching the clinic’s doors.
It’s worth noting that, in sending the case back to the lower court, the Court of Appeals did not rule or suggest that the City’s ordinance was constitutional. The decision was limited to a finding that the lower court did not have enough evidence to rule in our favor when it struck down the law in 2017. While we disagree with the appeals court, we remain confident that a full presentation in open court of all of the evidence will only lead to yet another finding that the law violates the First Amendment, particularly as explained by McCullen, a case involving a law almost identical to Englewood’s ordinance. This week’s court hearing is, we hope, another step on what has been a long road toward vindicating the rights of Jeryl Turco and, indeed, any others who share her convictions and her courage in speaking the truth about abortion in the public square.
If it seems secondary, even trivial, to be bothering about such cases in these dark days for all of us, the truth is we have no choice. The up-to-six-months gestational age abortion business at the focus of this case currently has a banner on its website boasting: “Open and serving our patients!”
Big Abortion isn’t sheltering in place. We can’t afford to either.