Blog Post

Free Speech Banned in Washington DC

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist The pro-life community in Washington DC is now forbidden to pray and counsel on the public property surrounding a local Planned Parenthood, prompting faith leaders to say they will risk arrest rather than surrender their First Amendment rights. The MetroCatholic is reporting that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington DC erected a fence around both their clinic and the public property upon which pro-lifers have been holding prayer vigils for years. Police say anyone who stands inside this fence, even though they are on public property, will be arrested. Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, calls the move “both disturbing and a disgrace” that prayer and free speech are being banned in the heart of the nation’s capital. “For many years, peaceful pro-life activist were allowed to pray, counsel and share on the public sidewalk and property in front of Planned Parenthood. Now, after putting up a fence around that public property, the Washington DC police department is threatening to arrest anyone who steps inside that fence to pray and counsel. Yet that sidewalk and property still remain public!” Rev. Mahoney plans to challenge the ban and, with the representation of the American Center for Law and Justice, has applied for a permit to conduct a prayer vigil on the public sidewalk leading up to the clinic. “Our hope is that the city of Washington, D.C. will honor and respect the First Amendment and allow us to celebrate our free speech rights in the nation’s capitol," he said. “However, even if we are threatened with arrest and taken to jail we will not be bullied or intimidated into silence or surrender.  When free speech and public prayer are banned and prohibited, it is the duty of people of faith to peacefully challenge that injustice and boldly take a stand. “Dr. Martin Luther King stated, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’  If we allow the trampling of the First Amendment here in Washington, D.C., then free speech rights are at risk all across America.” © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®