For Immediate Release
April 10th, 2020
Communications Manager, Live Action
Live Action Sends Letter to North Carolina Governor Condemning Hostility Toward Pro-Life Advocates
Washington, D.C. – Live Action Founder and President, Lila Rose, sent the following letter to Governor Roy Cooper following the arrests of pro-lifers lawfully witnessing outside of abortion businesses operating during the coronavirus.
Dear Governor Cooper,
Pro-life Americans are deeply concerned over the recent spate of citations and arrests of sidewalk advocates in North Carolina. On March 30th, advocates were cited outside an abortion facility in Greensboro. On April 4th, several advocates were arrested outside a facility in Charlotte. These advocates were supposedly in violation of your Executive Order No. 121 (“EO 121”), which attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by enforcing social distancing, and suspending most nonessential businesses and activities. However, we believe sidewalk advocates are in compliance with EO 121, and further insist that their activities are constitutionally protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Moreover, we urge you to expressly exclude abortion from North Carolina’s definition of essential services to protect the lives of the innocent preborn children killed in abortion facilities. This will also further EO 121’s goal to stop the spread of COVID-19. Abortion facilities are needlessly wasting personal protective equipment (“PPE”), and breaching EO 121’s social distancing requirements to carry out abortions. Yet, abortions are not medically necessary.
Lastly, sidewalk advocates know that their physical presence, public prayer, and witness of faith in front of these facilities changes hearts and minds. They feel an urgent sense to save preborn lives and to counsel the women entering these facilities. We suggest you can alleviate their sense of urgency, by simply closing these facilities.
Sidewalk Advocates are in Compliance with EO 121
EO 121 prohibits public gatherings of more than 10 people in any “confined indoor or outdoor space,” and suspends certain nonessential businesses and activities. However, EO 121 permits several “outdoor activities” for individuals, such as “walking, hiking, golfing, running, or biking,” or use of public parks and outdoor recreation areas, provided individuals maintain at least a six-foot distance from others.
Under EO 121, individuals may also travel to places of worship, and volunteer with charitable and social services. EO 121 designates “religious facilities, entities, groups, [and] gatherings” as essential businesses or operations. EO 121 also defines “Human Services Operations” as essential businesses, including businesses that provide “social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals.” EO 121 states that “Human Services Operations” shall be “construed broadly” to avoid impact on “human services, broadly defined.”
Sidewalk advocates are volunteers who perform a charitable service outside, not in confined spaces. Sidewalk advocates are as capable of maintaining the six-foot distance requirement as people walking, hiking, golfing, and biking. They are also engaged in “Human Services Operations” by counseling women on their alternatives to seeking abortion, offering them prayer, assistance, and referrals to pregnancy resource centers.
EO 121 also defines several types of “Healthcare and Public Health Operations” as essential services, but does not expressly include abortion facilities in this list. We believe North Carolina must expressly exclude abortion from its definition of “essential” healthcare services, to prevent cities and counties from interpreting EO 121 to exempt abortions, and abortion facilities. Abortion is not healthcare, and it is not essential business. Moreover, abortion facilities are confined, indoor spaces, where abortionists carry out abortions in close physical proximity to pregnant women. In addition to killing innocent preborn lives, abortionists are also wasting PPE, which is critically needed to protect real healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients.
Sidewalk Advocates are Constitutionally Protected
Sidewalk advocates are volunteers who maintain a physical presence outside abortion facilities, persuading women to reconsider abortion. Live Action stands with advocates who engage in peaceful, non-coercive means of persuasion such as silent prayer, vocal prayer, holding signs, or offering women directions to nearby pregnancy resource centers. These advocates are often people of faith, and they are often affiliated with churches, ministries, and other religious organizations.
Religious freedom is protected by the First Amendment from governmental restrictions, and the Fourteenth Amendment applies this religious freedom protection against State governmental restrictions as well. To this end, public prayer is a form of protected speech, and restricting public prayer constitutes viewpoint discrimination. Sidewalk advocates pray on public streets and sidewalks, which are considered public forums. Many of these counselors actually pray and counsel from nearby private property, which is also protected from government infringement on religious speech.
Abortion is not an “Essential” Service
Abortion is not healthcare, it is never medically necessary, and North Carolina should therefore expressly exclude it from “essential” services. Abortion is the killing of a human being in the womb. This is not a religious belief, but a provable scientific fact. However, pro-life Americans advance a culture of life based on ethical values and moral beliefs about the intrinsic dignity of human life. Sidewalk advocates feel morally compelled to save these preborn lives, and they use peaceful, lawful, and constitutionally protected means. They pray outside abortion facilities, and offer each mother counseling and resources at the critical moment before she chooses abortion.
So long as abortion facilities remain operational, sidewalk advocates will feel an urgent sense of moral duty to counsel women seeking abortion in order to protect innocent preborn lives. Their activities are essential under EO 121, they can comply with all social distancing requirements, and most importantly, their constitutional rights must be upheld.
Founder & President
Live Action is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to exposing the truth about abortion and affirming the life of every child. Live Action exists to change hearts and minds about abortion through compelling educational media, human interest stories, and investigative reporting that exposes the lies and corruption in the abortion industry. With the largest online following in the pro-life movement, Live Action’s videos and content reach millions of people every week. Find out more at http://www.liveaction.org