Kathleen Gilbert

News

Chicago drops buffer zone charges against another pro-lifer

Kathleen Gilbert

CHICAGO, July 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The City of Chicago dismissed its case Wednesday against a pro-lifer accused of violating a buffer ordinance guarding an abortion clinic, making him the latest of several activists arrested under the city’s buffer zone rules to have the charges dropped.

Local activist Andrew Scholberg had been arrested while standing outside Family Planning Associates, a late-term abortion facility on the north side of Chicago, for allegedly blocking access to the clinic and violating Chicago’s controversial ordinance. The ordinance is a local version of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which prohibits pro-lifers from approaching or communicating with abortion-bound mothers within a certain radius of the clinic entrance.

The complaining witness from the clinic and arresting officer did not appear in court.

The pro-life legal group Thomas More Society (TMS), which has advocated for many other Chicago pro-lifers similarly accused, celebrated the victory. “[Scholberg] did nothing wrong, and was peaceful,” said TMS executive director and legal counsel Peter Breen. “The police commander has to stop these baseless arrests and the filing of frivolous charges.”

The Thomas More Society has already won three other similar “Bubble Zone” cases in the past year and a half, including those of students David Holland and Joseph Avignone, who also saw their charges dropped by the city. One other case accepted a diversion of the charge.

Since its inception in 2009, the “Bubble Zone” portion of the Chicago ordinance has been used by Planned Parenthood to silence sidewalk counseling under the pretext of enforcing the law, when pro-lifers were actually in compliance, witnesses have claimed.

A guilty verdict under the ordinance could give rise to a federal civil action for fines of $10,000 and permanent injunctions against pro-life activity outside a particular abortion facility.

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