WASHINGTON, D.C. Representatives of three major pro-life groups met with Department of Justice officials recently to clarify what actually occurs on both sides of the door at the nation's abortion mills.
They called for the meeting in response to the government's concern about alleged violence at the mills. Meeting with Assistant Attorney General Jo Ann Harris were Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life; Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition; and Rev. Flip Benham, director of operations for Operation Rescue.
Fr. Pavone explained that while the Justice Department is concerned about illegal violence, the pro-life movement is concerned about both illegal and legal violence, that is, abortion itself. "Violence is wrong not simply because it is illegal, but precisely because it violates human dignity," he said., "The government and our whole society need to address the underlying problem, namely, that baby-killing is legal in our nation."
The pro-life leaders cited cases showing that violence at abortion mills has been directed not only at abortion providers, but at pro-lifers as well. They also insisted that, in the course of enforcing the law, the government should not infringe on the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers. Fr. Pavone added that many pro-abortion people call it "violence" when pro-lifers speak out against abortion. This, he said, is a confusion between real violence and free speech.
The government assured the pro-life leaders that the Justice Department is committed to upholding the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers, and that evidence of infringement of such rights should be brought to the department’s attention.
Earlier, Susan Finn, administrator of Priests for Life, testified before a House Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee which was reviewing the effectiveness of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
"The FACE bill is actually hurting women in crisis pregnancies," Finn explained. "There are thousands of pro-lifers who want to offer resources to pregnant women walking into abortion clinics. Yet, already across our country, the FACE bill is intimidating peaceful pro-lifers from offering help to these women. Many pro-lifers are confused and don't realize that peaceful protest is still legal.
"Many prayer groups, rosary vigils, and counselors believe they can no longer go to the clinics. Pro-abortion advocates and the media are spreading false reports that if pro-lifers go out to abortion clinics they'll be arrested and thrown into federal prison. Even people working in crisis pregnancy centers fear this bill not knowing how the government may interpret it, and enforce it.
"And the women are the ones who suffer," she added, "because they continue to believe that lying on a table and having their babies dismembered and sucked from their wombs is the only choice."
Priests for Life reaches 30,000 priests across the country with regular updates about how to assist women faced with crisis pregnancies.