Human Rights

Pro-life group suspects incident at Missouri Planned Parenthood ‘orchestrated’ for political reasons

The unexplained arrest of a regular pro-life sidewalk counselor outside Missouri’s only abortion facility, Planned Parenthood of St. Louis (the site of an average of “one 911 call and ambulance response every 42 days”) is raising the suspicions of the pro-life group Operation Rescue.

Operation Rescue reports that Mary Maschmeier, founder and president of Defenders of the Unborn, videotaped the incident, which occurred on the morning of December 31, noting on her Facebook page, “… John Ryan was arrested. He was not told what the charges were”:

Maschmeier told Operation Rescue that the police never asked [John] Ryan for his name nor did they respond to questions about why he was being put under arrest.

Ryan said that police spoke to none of the approximately six pro-life activists that had witnessed Ryan’s conduct all morning and could attest to the fact that he never broke the law.

Ryan was eventually charged with domestic terrorism and pulling a fire alarm, but the other pro-lifers present that day state they never witnessed Ryan leave the sidewalk that morning. Aside from this, John Ryan claims he was told by an arresting officer that police “were detailed ahead of time to Planned Parenthood” that day, but no further information was given. The following day, Ryan was released “on his own recognizance — without having to post bail,” says Operation Rescue, noting that this “also seemed odd given the charge of ‘domestic terrorism.'”

OR president Troy Newman believes it is possible the situation leading to Ryan’s arrest was pre-planned (by Planned Parenthood and the city of St. Louis) to give credence to a proposed amendment to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance which would include pregnancy and reproductive health decisions as “protected classes,” and put in place a buffer zone around Planned Parenthood St. Louis:

Two St. Louis Aldermen, Megan-Ellyia Green and Christine Ingrassia, both Democrats, have worked “in tandem” with the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) to introduce BB 203 and a new buffer zone ordinance that would keep protesters away from the facility – the only abortion facility in Missouri — and make it more difficult to offer help to women.

Historically, “buffer zones” have not held up in light of the First Amendment. One case even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court and was found unconstitutional. As Live Action News’ Becky Yeh reported in 2014, “[T]he U.S. Supreme Court struck down McCullen v. Coakleya lawsuit ADF and allied attorneys filed in 2008. The ruling affirms that restricted speech zones around abortion clinics violate the free speech rights of pro-life advocates.” This ruling led the city of Portland, Maine, to do away with its 39-foot buffer zone law (and even caused one in New Hampshire to be put on hold). The city of Portland eventually admitted the buffer zone law had violated the free speech rights of pro-lifers and agreed to pay them damages.

As Live Action News’ Nancy Flanders so astutely pointed out in a previous article, buffer zones are anything but ‘pro-choice’:

Buffer zone laws simply take away an aspect of a woman’s choice. Buffer zones shut down the one group of people whom some women are looking for. Buffer zones censor important information so that abortion clinics can continue to make money off emotionally distraught women who believe they have no other choice.

OR notes that “medical emergencies involving injuries to women… have taken place at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood abortion facility 63 times in the past eight years.” Just last month, Missouri lawmakers and pro-life activists held press conferences at five Missouri Planned Parenthood locations to, as Live Action News’ Carole Novielli stated, “sound a ‘safety alert’ to women and to urge for inspections and investigations of the St. Louis facility” due to its high number of ambulance calls. Operation Rescue had to fight the city of St. Louis just to gain access to the heavily redacted 911 call records through the Freedom of Information Act.

The abortion industry itself is the real danger to women.

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