YORK, Pennsylvania, March 4, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Two pro-life sidewalk counselors have now reached a favorable settlement with the city of York, located in south central Pennsylvania. The settlement secures their right to share the pro-life message in a public alley next to a Planned Parenthood abortion facility without harassment and intimidation from local police.
City of York police arrested pro-lifer Edward Snell in November 2004 in a public alley for peacefully attempting to hand out pro-life literature and speak with people walking to a Planned Parenthood abortion facility from its parking lot.
John McTernan was threatened with arrest in September 2005 if he continued to use the same alley, where he simply wished to hold a pro-life sign.
The Alliance Defense Fund represented Snell and McTernan, and argued that the men were simply exercising their First Amendment rights when they were arrested or threatened with arrest.
“Christians shouldn’t be arrested and threatened with arrest for expressing their beliefs on public property,” said Randall L. Wenger, who was lead counsel in the cases and serves as chief counsel of the Independence Law Center in Harrisburg.
“We are pleased that the city has recognized the free speech rights of these peaceful and respectful pro-life counselors. These men and other pro-life advocates will no longer be unlawfully prevented from sharing their message – at the whim of hostile police officers acting in the interest of Planned Parenthood.”
In April 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit reversed a federal judge’s decision against Snell and McTernan and opened their cases to a jury trial. The court also established a precedent that limits the ability of police to use special rules to silence pro-life counselors.