Three takeaways from NIFLA v. Becerra

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of the pregnancy centers challenging a California law that required them to post signage advertising state-funded abortion. The majority opinion, which found that the pregnancy centers were protected by the First Amendment, was written by Justice Thomas and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Gorsuch. The dissent was written by Justice Breyer and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor.

The case has been amply covered by media of all stripes, so I’ll just offer a few thoughts.

We desperately need a pro-life woman on the Court. All three women Justices—who I should note are past childbearing age and come from high-SES families—shamefully voted against the charities that aid low-income mothers in crisis. Already, pro-abortion groups are touting the sad fact that the Court’s free speech supporters are all male. This must change. If you haven’t already done so, sign the #NextNominee petition to make our next Justice a pro-life woman! A vacancy could come any day.

The central disagreement was how to apply Casey. In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court held that states could require abortion businesses to disclose the procedure’s risks and alternatives without running afoul of the First Amendment. Abortion supporters argued that California’s law was analogous to the law in Casey. I previously offered my counter-argument, which I’m pleased to see is similar to the majority ruling:

The licensed notice at issue here is not an informed consent requirement or any other regulation of professional conduct. The notice does not facilitate informed consent to a medical procedure. In fact, it is not tied to a procedure at all. It applies to all interactions between a covered facility and its clients, regardless of whether a medical procedure is ever sought, offered, or performed. If a covered facility does provide medical procedures, the notice provides no information about the risks or benefits of those procedures. Tellingly, many facilities that provide the exact same services as covered facilities—such as general practice clinics, see §123471(a)—are not required to provide the licensed notice.

The dissent’s counter-argument rests on the claim that childbirth, like abortion, is a “medical procedure that involves certain health risks.” Without getting into the longstanding feminist debate over the medicalization of childbirth, the notion that birth is a medical procedure is certainly news to all the mothers who’ve given birth without the involvement of any medical professional whatsoever. And while no one doubts that childbirth has risks, going to a pregnancy center does not in any way increase those preexisting risks; if anything, it decreases them by giving women access to free ultrasound exams and other resources. By contrast, the risks of abortion are the creation of the abortionist, and therefore the abortionist should bear the burden of explaining those risks.

Justice Kennedy’s concurrence stole the show. The majority did not explicitly rule on the question of whether California’s law was meant to discriminate against pro-life people (i.e., unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination), but of course it was. The Justices in the majority debunked the neutral rationales California put forward; for instance, they saw through the argument that California just wants to educate low-income women, noting that if that were the true motivation, the law would not have exempted most clinics that serve the poor.

But Justice Kennedy took it a step further in his concurring opinion, which was joined by all the majority Justices save Thomas (emphasis mine):

This separate writing seeks to underscore that the apparent viewpoint discrimination here is a matter of serious constitutional concern. See ante, at 6, n. 2. The Court, in my view, is correct not to reach this question. It was not sufficiently developed, and the rationale for the Court’s decision today suffices to resolve the case. And had the Court’s analysis been confined to viewpoint discrimination, some legislators might have inferred that if the law were reenacted with a broader base and broader coverage it then would be upheld.

It does appear that viewpoint discrimination is inherent in the design and structure of this Act. This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the State requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the State’s own preferred message advertising abortions. This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs, beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these.

Check out that last sentence. Four Supreme Court Justices just acknowledged that an anti-abortion stance can be based on philosophical and ethical precepts rather than just religious ones! Go us!

P.S.: Want more NIFLA v. Becerra coverage? NIFLA itself is holding a webcast tomorrow night.

Three takeaways from NIFLA v. Becerra

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of the pregnancy centers challenging a California law that required them to post signage advertising state-funded abortion. The majority opinion, which found that the pregnancy centers were protected by the First Amendment, was written by Justice Thomas and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Gorsuch. The dissent was written by Justice Breyer and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor.

The case has been amply covered by media of all stripes, so I’ll just offer a few thoughts.

We desperately need a pro-life woman on the Court. All three women Justices—who I should note are past childbearing age and come from high-SES families—shamefully voted against the charities that aid low-income mothers in crisis. Already, pro-abortion groups are touting the sad fact that the Court’s free speech supporters are all male. This must change. If you haven’t already done so, sign the #NextNominee petition to make our next Justice a pro-life woman! A vacancy could come any day.

The central disagreement was how to apply Casey. In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court held that states could require abortion businesses to disclose the procedure’s risks and alternatives without running afoul of the First Amendment. Abortion supporters argued that California’s law was analogous to the law in Casey. I previously offered my counter-argument, which I’m pleased to see is similar to the majority ruling:

The licensed notice at issue here is not an informed consent requirement or any other regulation of professional conduct. The notice does not facilitate informed consent to a medical procedure. In fact, it is not tied to a procedure at all. It applies to all interactions between a covered facility and its clients, regardless of whether a medical procedure is ever sought, offered, or performed. If a covered facility does provide medical procedures, the notice provides no information about the risks or benefits of those procedures. Tellingly, many facilities that provide the exact same services as covered facilities—such as general practice clinics, see §123471(a)—are not required to provide the licensed notice.

The dissent’s counter-argument rests on the claim that childbirth, like abortion, is a “medical procedure that involves certain health risks.” Without getting into the longstanding feminist debate over the medicalization of childbirth, the notion that birth is a medical procedure is certainly news to all the mothers who’ve given birth without the involvement of any medical professional whatsoever. And while no one doubts that childbirth has risks, going to a pregnancy center does not in any way increase those preexisting risks; if anything, it decreases them by giving women access to free ultrasound exams and other resources. By contrast, the risks of abortion are the creation of the abortionist, and therefore the abortionist should bear the burden of explaining those risks.

Justice Kennedy’s concurrence stole the show. The majority did not explicitly rule on the question of whether California’s law was meant to discriminate against pro-life people (i.e., unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination), but of course it was. The Justices in the majority debunked the neutral rationales California put forward; for instance, they saw through the argument that California just wants to educate low-income women, noting that if that were the true motivation, the law would not have exempted most clinics that serve the poor.

But Justice Kennedy took it a step further in his concurring opinion, which was joined by all the majority Justices save Thomas (emphasis mine):

This separate writing seeks to underscore that the apparent viewpoint discrimination here is a matter of serious constitutional concern. See ante, at 6, n. 2. The Court, in my view, is correct not to reach this question. It was not sufficiently developed, and the rationale for the Court’s decision today suffices to resolve the case. And had the Court’s analysis been confined to viewpoint discrimination, some legislators might have inferred that if the law were reenacted with a broader base and broader coverage it then would be upheld.

It does appear that viewpoint discrimination is inherent in the design and structure of this Act. This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the State requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the State’s own preferred message advertising abortions. This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs, beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these.

Check out that last sentence. Four Supreme Court Justices just acknowledged that an anti-abortion stance can be based on philosophical and ethical precepts rather than just religious ones! Go us!

P.S.: Want more NIFLA v. Becerra coverage? NIFLA itself is holding a webcast tomorrow night.

Three Major News Items Today

Mississippi passes 15-week abortion limit: Last night, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed a law limiting abortion to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life or health of the mother. Here, for reference, is what a 15-week-old human looks like (via the Endowment for Human Development):

While much media coverage noted that the new law is exceptionally “tough” or “strict,” that’s only true if you have a narrow, USA-centric frame of reference. Mississippi’s 15-week limit is mundane in the context of other developed nations like Spain, France, Germany, and Belgium (14 weeks LMP); Italy (12 weeks LMP); Portugal (10 weeks LMP); and Ireland, Malta, and Poland (right to life recognized without regard to age).

Mississippi’s sole abortion business has already filed suit to block the law. It will likely remain unenforced while the case works its way through the court system. The current Supreme Court is 5-4 in favor of abortion, so the law will only be upheld if a Justice soon retires or dies.

Illinois Primaries: Both the Democratic and Republican primary races in Illinois, being held today, are critical for pro-life advocates. On the Democratic side, abortion extremists have targeted Dan Lipinski, one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives. His challenger, Marie Newman, is funded primarily by NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Pro-Life Action League, Susan B. Anthony List, Democrats for Life, and many others are working phones and knocking on doors for Rep. Lipinski. Illinois has an open primary; pro-lifers of all stripes, including the independent and unaffiliated, who live in the 3rd Congressional District are strongly encouraged to cross over and vote for Lipinski. We must beat back those in the Democratic Party who would impose an abortion litmus test and treat the fundamental human right to life as a partisan issue.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Illinois primary voters have the opportunity to boot Governor Bruce Rauner from office. Gov. Rauner is infamous for signing a bill to destroy the Hyde Amendment in Illinois, introducing widespread taxpayer subsidies for the abortion industry. He betrayed not only those pro-lifers who voted for him, but the more than 144,000 Illinoisans who owe their very lives to Hyde Amendment protections. His primary opponent, Jeanne Ives, is an unapologetic pro-life advocate.

Today at the Supreme Court: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. NIFLA is an umbrella organization for pregnancy resource centers and clinics, who are challenging a California law that forces them to advertise abortions. Pro-life advocates from across the nation (including our own Terrisa Bukovinac, flying all the way from San Francisco!) are convening outside the Court this morning to stand up for life and freedom of speech. It’s going to be an incredible rally, and if you can’t make it in person, you can watch it live at the March for Life facebook page.

Three Major News Items Today

Mississippi passes 15-week abortion limit: Last night, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed a law limiting abortion to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life or health of the mother. Here, for reference, is what a 15-week-old human looks like (via the Endowment for Human Development):

While much media coverage noted that the new law is exceptionally “tough” or “strict,” that’s only true if you have a narrow, USA-centric frame of reference. Mississippi’s 15-week limit is mundane in the context of other developed nations like Spain, France, Germany, and Belgium (14 weeks LMP); Italy (12 weeks LMP); Portugal (10 weeks LMP); and Ireland, Malta, and Poland (right to life recognized without regard to age).

Mississippi’s sole abortion business has already filed suit to block the law. It will likely remain unenforced while the case works its way through the court system. The current Supreme Court is 5-4 in favor of abortion, so the law will only be upheld if a Justice soon retires or dies.

Illinois Primaries: Both the Democratic and Republican primary races in Illinois, being held today, are critical for pro-life advocates. On the Democratic side, abortion extremists have targeted Dan Lipinski, one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives. His challenger, Marie Newman, is funded primarily by NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Pro-Life Action League, Susan B. Anthony List, Democrats for Life, and many others are working phones and knocking on doors for Rep. Lipinski. Illinois has an open primary; pro-lifers of all stripes, including the independent and unaffiliated, who live in the 3rd Congressional District are strongly encouraged to cross over and vote for Lipinski. We must beat back those in the Democratic Party who would impose an abortion litmus test and treat the fundamental human right to life as a partisan issue.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Illinois primary voters have the opportunity to boot Governor Bruce Rauner from office. Gov. Rauner is infamous for signing a bill to destroy the Hyde Amendment in Illinois, introducing widespread taxpayer subsidies for the abortion industry. He betrayed not only those pro-lifers who voted for him, but the more than 144,000 Illinoisans who owe their very lives to Hyde Amendment protections. His primary opponent, Jeanne Ives, is an unapologetic pro-life advocate.

Today at the Supreme Court: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. NIFLA is an umbrella organization for pregnancy resource centers and clinics, who are challenging a California law that forces them to advertise abortions. Pro-life advocates from across the nation (including our own Terrisa Bukovinac, flying all the way from San Francisco!) are convening outside the Court this morning to stand up for life and freedom of speech. It’s going to be an incredible rally, and if you can’t make it in person, you can watch it live at the March for Life facebook page.

In One Week: Rally for Life and Freedom of Speech

Exactly one week from today, on March 20, pro-life advocates will rally outside of the Supreme Court while the Justices hear arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. As we previously wrote, this lawsuit challenges an extreme California law that requires pro-life pregnancy clinics to post advertisements for abortion. This law is a plainly unconstitutional gift to the abortion industry that neglects mother’s real needs. It cannot stand.

When you’re at the rally, keep an eye out for SPL rep Terrisa Bukovinac! Terrisa (pictured right) is also the head of Pro-Life San Francisco; she is traveling across the country to fight for California babies, parents, and pro-life advocates.

Other organizations participating in next week’s rally include Students for Life of America, Rehumanize International, and of course NIFLA itself, along with a host of others.

This case is incredibly important for the future of the pro-life movement and freedom of conscience and expression. If there is any way you can be there, we strongly encourage you to attend!

P.S. If you happen to be in D.C. a few days earlier, the Newseum is hosting a legal panel discussion of the case this Friday, March 16, that looks really interesting.

In One Week: Rally for Life and Freedom of Speech

Exactly one week from today, on March 20, pro-life advocates will rally outside of the Supreme Court while the Justices hear arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. As we previously wrote, this lawsuit challenges an extreme California law that requires pro-life pregnancy clinics to post advertisements for abortion. This law is a plainly unconstitutional gift to the abortion industry that neglects mother’s real needs. It cannot stand.

When you’re at the rally, keep an eye out for SPL rep Terrisa Bukovinac! Terrisa (pictured right) is also the head of Pro-Life San Francisco; she is traveling across the country to fight for California babies, parents, and pro-life advocates.

Other organizations participating in next week’s rally include Students for Life of America, Rehumanize International, and of course NIFLA itself, along with a host of others.

This case is incredibly important for the future of the pro-life movement and freedom of conscience and expression. If there is any way you can be there, we strongly encourage you to attend!

P.S. If you happen to be in D.C. a few days earlier, the Newseum is hosting a legal panel discussion of the case this Friday, March 16, that looks really interesting.

In one weird way, California pregnancy centers are more harshly regulated than cigarettes

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, which is a constitutional challenge to California’s anti-pregnancy-center law. The law forces pregnancy centers to post a sign advertising California’s abortion subsidy program. Pro-life pregnancy centers claim that this compelled advertising violates their right to freedom of speech, and are excited to see the Court hear the case.

At Slate, abortion-supporting authors Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern say not so fast. They claim that if NIFLA succeeds in taking down California’s law, then informed consent laws for abortion (which pro-lifers, and also most pro-choicers, support) will go down with it. Their argument, in a nutshell: California’s law compels speech (true), and informed consent laws for abortion also compel speech (true), so both types of laws will inevitably be treated the same way by the courts.

I don’t think Lithwick and Stern’s conclusion follows from their premises. To understand why, let’s start from an area of agreement: tobacco. It’s safe to say that Marlboro would rather not place the Surgeon General’s warning on its flagship product. Clearly, that’s an instance of compelled speech. But even among free speech absolutists, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who believes that the required Surgeon General’s warning violates the First Amendment. Why not? Because the government interest in regulation is incredibly compelling—it’s literally life and death.

The same rationale applies to the legal requirement of informed consent in the healthcare context. This is true not only for abortion—which is designed to kill (and therefore, pro-life advocates argue, not actually healthcare at all)—but for all surgical procedures and potentially harmful drugs, even if they are not as deadly as cigarettes. The freedom of speech isn’t limitless, and requiring warnings about potential physical dangers is a sensible limit.

Contrast that with the services typically offered by pregnancy resource centers: pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STI tests, parenting classes, financial aid, baby supplies, maternity clothes, job training assistance, maternity housing referrals, and the like. Services vary from location to location, but they all have one thing in common: they pose zero physical risk to women. They are either diagnostic or socioeconomic; they are not invasive, and they have no side effects. When it comes to regulating abortion facilities, pro-life lawmakers can cite studies showing abortion risks, and pro-choice lawmakers can cite studies whitewashing those risks, and they can battle it out. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a single reputable study that shows, say, an increased risk of preterm birth from receiving a free sonogram. It’s been said so often that I don’t know who coined the phrase, but no woman has ever died at a pro-life pregnancy center.

If any real risk existed, I’d support compelled warnings. But it just doesn’t, and that’s why California’s law doesn’t require disclosure of any danger; instead, it requires NIFLA to advertise for its competitors in the abortion industry. Even the Surgeon General’s warning doesn’t go that far! Cigarette manufacturers are not required to post advertisements for Nicorette gum on their packaging; their compelled speech is limited to posting warnings about the risks of tobacco. And yet pregnancy care centers in California are compelled to actively promote the tragedy of abortion—the very thing they exist to help mothers avoid.

Compelled speech laws are generally unconstitutional unless the government has a compelling interest in preventing serious harms. California’s compelled speech law doesn’t come close to meeting that test. It is an ideological crusade against those who would dare use the peaceful power of persuasion to save lives from abortion, and the Supreme Court should invalidate it.

In one weird way, California pregnancy centers are more harshly regulated than cigarettes

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, which is a constitutional challenge to California’s anti-pregnancy-center law. The law forces pregnancy centers to post a sign advertising California’s abortion subsidy program. Pro-life pregnancy centers claim that this compelled advertising violates their right to freedom of speech, and are excited to see the Court hear the case.

At Slate, abortion-supporting authors Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern say not so fast. They claim that if NIFLA succeeds in taking down California’s law, then informed consent laws for abortion (which pro-lifers, and also most pro-choicers, support) will go down with it. Their argument, in a nutshell: California’s law compels speech (true), and informed consent laws for abortion also compel speech (true), so both types of laws will inevitably be treated the same way by the courts.

I don’t think Lithwick and Stern’s conclusion follows from their premises. To understand why, let’s start from an area of agreement: tobacco. It’s safe to say that Marlboro would rather not place the Surgeon General’s warning on its flagship product. Clearly, that’s an instance of compelled speech. But even among free speech absolutists, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who believes that the required Surgeon General’s warning violates the First Amendment. Why not? Because the government interest in regulation is incredibly compelling—it’s literally life and death.

The same rationale applies to the legal requirement of informed consent in the healthcare context. This is true not only for abortion—which is designed to kill (and therefore, pro-life advocates argue, not actually healthcare at all)—but for all surgical procedures and potentially harmful drugs, even if they are not as deadly as cigarettes. The freedom of speech isn’t limitless, and requiring warnings about potential physical dangers is a sensible limit.

Contrast that with the services typically offered by pregnancy resource centers: pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STI tests, parenting classes, financial aid, baby supplies, maternity clothes, job training assistance, maternity housing referrals, and the like. Services vary from location to location, but they all have one thing in common: they pose zero physical risk to women. They are either diagnostic or socioeconomic; they are not invasive, and they have no side effects. When it comes to regulating abortion facilities, pro-life lawmakers can cite studies showing abortion risks, and pro-choice lawmakers can cite studies whitewashing those risks, and they can battle it out. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a single reputable study that shows, say, an increased risk of preterm birth from receiving a free sonogram. It’s been said so often that I don’t know who coined the phrase, but no woman has ever died at a pro-life pregnancy center.

If any real risk existed, I’d support compelled warnings. But it just doesn’t, and that’s why California’s law doesn’t require disclosure of any danger; instead, it requires NIFLA to advertise for its competitors in the abortion industry. Even the Surgeon General’s warning doesn’t go that far! Cigarette manufacturers are not required to post advertisements for Nicorette gum on their packaging; their compelled speech is limited to posting warnings about the risks of tobacco. And yet pregnancy care centers in California are compelled to actively promote the tragedy of abortion—the very thing they exist to help mothers avoid.

Compelled speech laws are generally unconstitutional unless the government has a compelling interest in preventing serious harms. California’s compelled speech law doesn’t come close to meeting that test. It is an ideological crusade against those who would dare use the peaceful power of persuasion to save lives from abortion, and the Supreme Court should invalidate it.

How to determine which areas outside an abortion center are public property

Today’s guest post is by Lauren Handy. She recently did some research and determined that the entire front lawn outside the Planned Parenthood facility that just opened in Washington, D.C.—right up to the door—is public property, open to pro-lifers offering alternatives to abortion!

This is a bigger deal than Ron Burgundy:

We asked Lauren to share the story of how she figured this out, in the hope that it will help others across the country to make the most of their First Amendment rights. Here’s what she had to say.

* * *

Activist: Well, officer, this is public property. I’m allowed to stand here. 

D.C. Officer: And what authority are you speaking on? 

Activist: Chapter 5, Title 3A, Sub 1(d). 

D.C. Officer: …

Activist: …

D.C. Officer: … 

Activist: …

D.C. Officer: OK.

If I had a quarter for every time I had this conversation, I would be able to afford my metro fare. But alas, I only get stares from onlookers and a grumpy Planned Parenthood staff. Yet it’s worth it, because when you know the full scope of your rights, you become an empowered and effective activist.

I know what you’re thinking: How did Lauren learn all of this? Well, I was trained under Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, and I have personally had over 400 saves (meaning I helped change a mother’s mind and the baby was saved from abortion). I want you to have the same success so today I’ll share with you some of my tips and tricks!

As a disclaimer, I am not a lawyer. BUT I am a person whose traveled to 30 states for pro-life work and I’ve found more often than not these situations will be the same.

Lauren on public property outside the D.C.
Planned Parenthood abortion center

As the D.C. Planned Parenthood construction site was being finished, I noticed a manhole or water utility on the grass. I was so shocked that I started dancing on it. I thought: “This is it! This is how we will take down Planned Parenthood!” And now you’re thinking, is she always this dramatic? Well… yes, I am, but finding these gems is very important during your outreach. Manholes, fire hydrants and water utilities are all government owned. This means it is public property, making it a traditional public forum, a.k.a. you can stand there and be closer to the door!

When you go to your local abortion facility, scan the area for these telltale signs. It helps you gain sidewalk counseling ground which makes you more effective. Often you have 2-5 seconds to convince a mother not to kill their baby, but for every foot you add to where you can stand, add a couple more seconds. In crisis intervention you are racing against the clock and every second counts.

Now that I have identified new public property, I need to get proof. Our word is never enough, so I had to get a map. Specifically, an official map, that holds the weight to back up the claim.

Finding your map is fairly easy. Your key word in finding them is PLAT. First, you Google the name your city or county with the words “plat map.” In this case I googled “D.C. plat map” and it brought me to the government’s board of property page. I got the office’s address and made my way to the official surveyor’s office. I told them the Planned Parenthood address, and boom I now have my official map!

So now when I begin my sidewalk outreach at the new Planned Parenthood, I’ll have all that I need to prove I can stand on the expanded space.
I have used this tactic in Silver Spring, MD, San Bernardino, CA, and at another D.C. abortion facility as well. It works and you gain confidence as an activist as well.

Now for a last quick tip: laminate your map and make multiple copies. You never know what will happen. I have had my map ripped, sprayed by a hose, and worst of all, lost it in my tornado of a room. So having more than one is a godsend.

In the end, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to use every tip and trick you can when sidewalk counseling. It saves lives and protects mothers and families from the scourge of abortion.
Helping people is my mission in life, so if you have any comments or questions please send them my way!

Peace for all,
Lauren

How to determine which areas outside an abortion center are public property

Today’s guest post is by Lauren Handy. She recently did some research and determined that the entire front lawn outside the Planned Parenthood facility that just opened in Washington, D.C.—right up to the door—is public property, open to pro-lifers offering alternatives to abortion!

This is a bigger deal than Ron Burgundy:

We asked Lauren to share the story of how she figured this out, in the hope that it will help others across the country to make the most of their First Amendment rights. Here’s what she had to say.

* * *

Activist: Well, officer, this is public property. I’m allowed to stand here. 

D.C. Officer: And what authority are you speaking on? 

Activist: Chapter 5, Title 3A, Sub 1(d). 

D.C. Officer: …

Activist: …

D.C. Officer: … 

Activist: …

D.C. Officer: OK.

If I had a quarter for every time I had this conversation, I would be able to afford my metro fare. But alas, I only get stares from onlookers and a grumpy Planned Parenthood staff. Yet it’s worth it, because when you know the full scope of your rights, you become an empowered and effective activist.

I know what you’re thinking: How did Lauren learn all of this? Well, I was trained under Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, and I have personally had over 400 saves (meaning I helped change a mother’s mind and the baby was saved from abortion). I want you to have the same success so today I’ll share with you some of my tips and tricks!

As a disclaimer, I am not a lawyer. BUT I am a person whose traveled to 30 states for pro-life work and I’ve found more often than not these situations will be the same.

Lauren on public property outside the D.C.
Planned Parenthood abortion center

As the D.C. Planned Parenthood construction site was being finished, I noticed a manhole or water utility on the grass. I was so shocked that I started dancing on it. I thought: “This is it! This is how we will take down Planned Parenthood!” And now you’re thinking, is she always this dramatic? Well… yes, I am, but finding these gems is very important during your outreach. Manholes, fire hydrants and water utilities are all government owned. This means it is public property, making it a traditional public forum, a.k.a. you can stand there and be closer to the door!

When you go to your local abortion facility, scan the area for these telltale signs. It helps you gain sidewalk counseling ground which makes you more effective. Often you have 2-5 seconds to convince a mother not to kill their baby, but for every foot you add to where you can stand, add a couple more seconds. In crisis intervention you are racing against the clock and every second counts.

Now that I have identified new public property, I need to get proof. Our word is never enough, so I had to get a map. Specifically, an official map, that holds the weight to back up the claim.

Finding your map is fairly easy. Your key word in finding them is PLAT. First, you Google the name your city or county with the words “plat map.” In this case I googled “D.C. plat map” and it brought me to the government’s board of property page. I got the office’s address and made my way to the official surveyor’s office. I told them the Planned Parenthood address, and boom I now have my official map!

So now when I begin my sidewalk outreach at the new Planned Parenthood, I’ll have all that I need to prove I can stand on the expanded space.
I have used this tactic in Silver Spring, MD, San Bernardino, CA, and at another D.C. abortion facility as well. It works and you gain confidence as an activist as well.

Now for a last quick tip: laminate your map and make multiple copies. You never know what will happen. I have had my map ripped, sprayed by a hose, and worst of all, lost it in my tornado of a room. So having more than one is a godsend.

In the end, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to use every tip and trick you can when sidewalk counseling. It saves lives and protects mothers and families from the scourge of abortion.
Helping people is my mission in life, so if you have any comments or questions please send them my way!

Peace for all,
Lauren