Having problems with police when praying in front of abortion clinic

Hi all

A few of us from my young adult group pray the rosary in front of an abortion clinic on saturday mornings.

We started at this clinic very near our parish and never had a problem there. This clinic was quite busy but for some reason ( I would like to think it was our prayers) it closed and merged with another around 2 miles further west.

We also moved to this new clinic and from the first time there we had problems. The people at this clinic really hate us being out there and have called the police numerous times. The first couple of times the police said we were ok and had a right to be there since we were not disturbing anyone.

Well lately they’ve changed their story. Now they are saying we have to pray across the street from the clinic. I really don’t think this is right since the street is the street and should be public domain but i’m not sure.

Does anyone know whether we have to move across the street? We have a permit issued by the city so we’re covered there. I’m in the state of Florida if this makes a difference.

thanks all for reading and for your answers

Praise God for your courage in witnessing! The pro-life apostolate is probably the most unpopular apostolate there is (in terms of the secular world-view) and so I really commend you guys for your committment.

As to your particular situation, I’m in Australia so I don’t know much about American laws relating to your witnessing but I can direct you to some people who might. Have you heard of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants? They are basically a grass-roots movement doing exactly what you’re doing, praying to end abortion. Their website is helpersbrooklynny.org and you can email them and I’m sure they’d be happy to give you any advice they can as they’ve definitely faced situations like yours before.

Happy praying! :slight_smile:

The street is the street. Anyone is free to pray there or on the sidewalk. You are not disturbing anyone or acting in violent protest.

Stick to whatever your permit says you can do. Is it possible for you to ask an attorney and clearify your rights? It sounds like the clinic is just trying to intimidate you in staying away, that means you are having an effect on their business, keep up the good work!

you need to find out the law in your area, and get guidance from whoever is the pro-life person in your diocese who should be coordinating prayer vigils, protests, sidewalk counselling etc. Here we are told specifically where we may and may not stand, park etc. A pro-life doctor has offered his parking lot for our use, as he is directly across from the abortuary. In this town, there is not much legal room around the PP office so it is more problematic. It sounds heroic to risk arrest and jail time but it can actually have a very negative impact on your overall mission, to change minds and hearts. Your group should have already applied for a permit for your activities which should spell out what you are allowed to do, and where, and when.

thank you all
puzzleannie- we do have a permit, all it says it’s the address of the abortion place ??

i will be traveling for quite a while starting tomorrow but i’m sure the rest of the group will figure it out! I’m glad we are having an impact regardless

Yep, in the US (I am not sure where you are) many cities have"bubble zone" laws which forbid activity with x-number of feet from a person seeking abortion or from the entrance to an abortion clinic. It really is important that you learn the local laws in terms of what is permitted and what is not permitted.

You should find out if their is a local or state ordinance requiring you to cross the street. The police might or might not know what they are talking about. What does your permit state?

Regardless, never resist the police or their directions. Never block a sidewalk or stop traffic. I have been involved in countless demonstrations. Outside of abortion clinic we just stay on the sidewalk nearest the abortion facility property, no permit and the police leave us alone (the deathscorts would often call the police and lie and the police would have to respond). We later got video cameras to protect ourselves. One town had some bogus “parade permit” requirement (two people standing on public property constitutes a parade). I do not know why you would even need a permit to be on public property. If Fla. or your town have such an ordinance then you should consider
taking the issue to court - but in the meanwhile obey the police.

Who asked you to move across the street? The police or the clinic? This is an important point.


praying for you and your group. one tip is to document everything, especially make copies of your permit to give to the police.

I was fortunate enough to be part of ‘40 Days For Life’ here in Sydney Australia. Our group prayed across the street from the clinic from Day 1. I don’t see an issue, as the pray-ers were well and truly visible to those in the neighbourhood as well as those going into the clinic, and did a great deal of good.

Unless you’re planning on physically blocking or restraining people from going in (which is illegal) or something, then why NOT pray across the street? For all you know there might’ve been a sudden change of local law about where you can be anyways - such things happen when groups like yours start gathering.

To heed the request of the police shows a Christian lack of rancour towards both them and the people working at the clinic.

(1) Your pro-life group needs to enlist a pro life lawyer to ensure you comply with all state and local ordinances. You can start by doing research at city hall regarding city ordinances.

(2) Have your permit on you at all times.

(3) Two words: video camera. Set up a video camera to tape everything while you are there.

(4) Never go alone

I love seeing other people stand up for the unborn and praying at the abortion clinic in all kinds of weather. (Try freezing sleet)

A video camera is actually a bad idea. The women going into the clinic, or the clinic, can sue you for having the video camera on, especially without permission.

From my experiences at the abortion clinic, if one of the journalism staff brings a camera, our teacher asks the PP escorts if we can take a picture of only the group for the school newspaper. It’s strictly forbidden to take pictures or videos of the PP employees or women entering the clinic. Hope this helps some

why can’t you video a PUBLIC sidewalk?

Most places it is legal to videotape in public, but there are some limits and some states have wiretapping laws that cover involuntary videotaping. Videotaping people seeking medical services may also implicate privacy laws in some areas. Also, many police believe that it is illegal to photograph or videotape them. They are wrong, but they also have guns, batons and tasers. Here is a link to website about the joys and dangers of photographing and videotaping the police: Photography is Not a Crime The site has some interesting stories, but it is by a kind of radical anti-establishment type.

I would check with a local lawyer to find out for sure, if you can. Just remember that anytime you are doing something that the police don’t like you may just get smacked in the head. The fact that the policeman may or may not be later made to apologize to you will probably not make your head feel any better.

I would request an appointment with the city attorney to clarify what your permit allows you to do, then stick to it. Get it in writing. Let him or her know that your concern is that the police have told you two different things, and that you want to comply to the law. If the police then ask you to do something different, show them documentation from the City attorney.

This is probably the best idea. I can’t stand police who harass citizens and stomp all over the constitution.

Well, to be fair sometimes they don’t know the local laws as well as they should. But yep, sometimes they do.

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