TUPELO, MS, May 30, 2001 (LSN.ca) – The Illinois Court of Appeals recently reversed the trespassing conviction of sidewalk counselor Laura Carroll. She was arrested while was offering abortion-bound women alternatives to abortion. Carroll, now Sister Mary Alix, writing from the Sisters of Saint John Convent, where she recently received her habit, wrote “All Glory to God!… I am grateful, …for the Court’s thoughtful and prudent ruling advancing the cause of justice and peace.”
The American Family Association Center for Law & Policy (AFACLP), which handled Carroll’s case explained that her “crime” was walking onto an abortion clinic’s parking lot in order to deliver asked-for pamphlets. The male escort of an abortion-bound woman asked Carroll to bring him literature detailing local alternatives to abortion, pledging that he would read the information if only Carroll would bring it to him. So Carroll bravely walked past the “no trespassing” signs posted all around the clinic parking lot and onto the very asphalt that she had repeatedly been warned to stay off. Soon after she delivered the life-affirming pamphlet a clinic worker exited the building, loudly demanding that Carroll remove herself from clinic property. Miss Carroll promptly complied. Carroll was then cited for trespass by police.
The appeals court accepted the argument put forward by Carroll’s attorney’s, Bryan J. Brown of APACLP and Illinois attorney Carl F. Schroeder, that the case involved a defense of “invitation”. The Court of Appeals made much of the clinic administrator’s admission (under cross-examination) that patients and their escorts were allowed to invite anyone of their choosing into the clinic. “The record does not indicate,” the Court noted sarcastically, “that patients’ escorts and companions were routinely screened and asked to leave if they voiced antiabortion opinions or voiced their opinion that clinic fees were too high.” The Appellate Court then reversed Carroll’s conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. However, Carroll’s attorney’s doubt she will be retried given the breadth of the appeals court ruling.
After People v. Carroll,” Brown said, “abortion clinics are put on notice – if they invite the general public into their waiting rooms then they invite even pro-life advocates into their waiting rooms.” Sister Mary Alix will soon depart for France, where she will enter a novitiate house. “I rather doubt,” remarked Attorney Brown, “that Sister Mary Alix will be extradited, in the event the State does decide to prosecute her for her trespasses once again.”“But if they do,” Brown added, “The Center for Law & Policy will be right beside her all the way.”