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By Bill Beckman, Executive Director –Illinois Right to Life Committee
At least five years ago, Planned Parenthood Chicago Area (PPCA) organized a press conference with their contingent of pro-abortion ministers. These ministers accused the Archdiocese of Chicago with “harassment” of PPCA’s customers by holding a prayer vigil with hundreds of people in front of PPCA’s abortion clinic at 1200 N. LaSalle in Chicago.
At the same time a bill was being considered in Springfield (called the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act) to outlaw “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics. The bill did not define harassment, but that press conference made it clear what they intended. The bill did not pass and has not been re-introduced so far. Maybe the extra insight provided at the press conference helped stop this bad bill.
Apparently, California was not so fortunate. California’s 2004 “hate crimes” law (SB 1234) led to new training for police in California. They now receive hate crimes training called “multi-mission criminal extremism.” A new category has been added called “anti-reproductive-rights crimes.” Pro-lifers are automatically suspect.
This perspective of automatic suspicion is seen as a factor in the mid-January conviction of Rev. Walter Hoye in Oakland. He was convicted of “harassment” of both employees and patients of an abortion clinic there. What was Hoye’s real offense? He was effective at reducing the abortionist’s business by holding a sign with the message “Jesus loves you and your baby” and offering assistance to women who responded to his sign.
Last week, young people passing out Pro-Life literature to high school students on the public sidewalk in Birmingham, AL were arrested and accused of “criminal trespass.” I suppose their literature was not consistent with the agenda conveyed in the “comprehensive sex ed” these students were getting in class, so this “inaccurate and unscientific” literature could not be tolerated.
“Hate crimes” bills will soon be considered in the U.S. Congress. All Americans who value freedom of speech should oppose these “hate crimes” bills (H.R. 256 and H.R. 262). As shown above, Pro-Lifers may be especially at risk of arrest and censorship under such “hate crimes” provisions, making these bills a serious threat to our freedom of speech. If they became law, they would hinder our ability to save babies from abortion, or even to share Pro-Life information in public.
Sharing information that reflects negatively on any “legal” action (e.g. abortion, morning-after pill, etc.) is seen as “hate speech” because it effectively criticizes those who exercise these legal rights. Such criticism might also stimulate others to act with hate and violence. This “hate speech” is deemed to be criminal, as in the “anti-reproductive-rights crime” of discouraging women from getting abortions. That is how defending life can become a hate crime. Do not stay silent now, or it may become illegal to say anything later.