Activism

Florida sidewalk counselors once again allowed near Jacksonville abortion business

violence against man praying rosary at Planned Parenthood

Pro-lifers in Jacksonville, Florida, are rejoicing that for the first time in a dozen years they are able to directly reach abortion-bound women at one area abortion facility.

According to a press release from Thomas More Society, who provided legal assistance to the Jacksonville-area pro-life organization Family for LIFE, sidewalk counselors had long been “prohibited by police from getting within about a block of” A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville, the same dangerous abortion facility that hospitalized two women 10 months apart between September of 2019 and July of 2020.

The release explained that the prohibition was because “the facility is located in an office park serviced by a private driveway that runs between the buildings. Local law enforcement has long confined pro-life activists to the busy street at the corner where the private drive begins. This has denied the group’s sidewalk counselors a chance to offer assistance and share life-affirming alternatives to abortion.”

However, in 2020, a Family for LIFE member learned of a potential way to sidewalk counsel closer to the actual facility, due to a nonexclusive easement on the abortion facility property. Family for LIFE contacted Thomas More Society, whose Senior Counsel Matt Hefron noted, “We did a lot of research and then hired some top-notch real-estate attorneys and litigators in a large law firm in Jacksonville. After lots of discussions and analysis, we developed several legal strategies.” Heffron considers what happened next nothing short of miraculous.

READ: Ambulance rushes to Jacksonville abortion facility for ‘traumatic injury’

“Then providentially – and I do mean providentially, an office came open for rent right across the driveway from the abortion clinic,” he said. “Of course, anyone renting in that business park would be allowed to use the easement to access their business. It was a rock-solid solution… So now, Family for LIFE is the across-the-drive neighbor to the abortion clinic. Weren’t the abortionists surprised!”

Thomas More Society not only assisted Family for LIFE with renting the office space, but also put legal pressure on a Jacksonville health official who had repeatedly refused open-records requests from Family for LIFE about ambulance calls to the abortion facility. The requests were finally honored without Family for LIFE having to file suit. TMS attorneys also set the record straight when an off-duty police officer working as hired security for A Woman’s Choice threatened citation and arrest of the pro-lifers who had begun praying outside the facility.

Pro-lifers celebrated the new office opening and ability to sidewalk counsel with an outdoor Mass across the driveway from the facility. Trudy Perez-Pevoda of Family for LIFE expressed gratitude to Thomas More Society, saying, “The Thomas More Society attorneys were the reason that this spectacular celebration of life could take place.” Heffron returned the praise, noting, “This is a tribute to the perseverance of Trudy Perez-Poveda and Family for LIFE…and the providence of God.”

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