Flying in the face of First Amendment free-speech rights, the Obama Administration is targeting peaceful, law-abiding pro-life advocates for prosecution for supposedly violating a federal law by helping women find abortion alternatives.
LifeNews reported that, the Obama administration is continuing to harass and intimidate pro-life people who provide abortion alternatives information to women outside abortion facilities. They are prosecuting elderly man for stepping on a woman’s shoe and breaking the strap.
Maryland resident Richard Retta has been accused of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by doing nothing more than exercising his 1st Amendment rights when he presents information to and talks to women considering abortions. For more than 10 years, he has helped women heading to the Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington abortion center find the kind of alternatives the abortion business never provides.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division sees the gentleman as some sort of terrorist and it has filed a lawsuit claiming Retta is one of “the most vocal and aggressive anti-abortion protesters.” How so? The Obama administration claims, “On one occasion, defendant walked so closely to a patient that he stepped on the patient’s shoe and broke the shoe strap.”
In a new interview with National Public Radio (NPR) Ellen Gertzog, director of security for Planned Parenthood calls this a “good thing.” Quite ironic that murderers judge the morality of a lawful exercise of the right of free speech.
Sharon Levin, a vice president at the National Abortion Federation, admits there has been a “relatively low level of extreme violence” at abortion facilities in recent years, but she also applauds the Obama administration for targeting peaceful pro-lifers.
Justice Department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told NPR that the crackdown on peaceful pro-lifers somehow doesn’t abridge their free speech rights.
“The department has stepped up civil rights enforcement across the board, and will continue to vigorously enforce all the laws under its jurisdiction, including the FACE Act,” she said.
But that’s not stopping it from squashing Retta’s free speech rights as Obama officials are suing Retta for $10,000 for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), and is ordering him to pay compensatory damages of $5,000 each to three supposed victims of Retta handing out information and telling women to not have an abortion.
The government, which has a different view on what constitutes free speech, says Retta “attempted to, and did, by physical obstruction, intentionally intimidate or interfere with persons because they were or had been providing or obtaining reproductive health services, or in order to intimidate such persons from providing or obtaining reproductive health services at the Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.”
Tina Korbe, of the conservative blog Hot Air, commented on the case and said the characterization of the Obama administration is at odds with those who know Retta personally.
“Those who know Dick Retta describe him as a peaceful, prayerful man, who regards his sidewalk counseling outside the Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington as a ministry. Retta even conducts weekend training sessions to encourage other pro-life advocates to stand outside the facility to offer words of hope, encouragement and possibility to the young women who come and go from the abortion center,” she writes. “At these training sessions, one attendee says, he specifically emphasizes that the point of sidewalk counseling is not to block access, but, instead, to remind pregnant women that they do, in fact, have a choice other than abortion — and to offer post-abortion healing, as well, as few abortion centers prepare women for all of the possible emotional consequences of their decision.”
“But perhaps nothing attests to Retta’s warm and compassionate nature so much as the influence he has been able to have on the women he counsels as he walks side-by-side with them. Some estimate that, over the past 14 years or so, Retta’s words have resulted in more than 1,000 “saves,” what members of the pro-life movement call the change of heart that leads a pregnant mother to choose to have her child,” Korbe added. “Retta also patiently endures the antipathy of those who aren’t receptive to his message. Just last week, by one account, a woman entering the clinic pepper-sprayed Retta. Yet, Retta persists in his work because he’s seen what a positive difference it makes.”
The US Government, with the approval of President Obama, is targeting citizens for exercising their constitutionally-protected right of free speech, including such activities such as praying, providing women outside abortion centers with alternatives information, and peaceful protesting or picketing.
That is an abomination.