CHICAGO, August 6, 2009 ( – After the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last month threatened to withhold tax-exempt status from an Iowa pro-life group unless they stopped protesting Planned Parenthood, the group’s attorneys say they received a letter this week acknowledging that the IRS had backed down and granted the status.

Lawyers with the Thomas More Society announced that they received an official “Determination Letter” from the IRS granting tax exempt status to the Coalition for Life of Iowa, a newly formed grass roots pro-life citizen group based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The lawyers had challenged the IRS in July when, after a long delay in approval of the Coalition’s request for the exemption, it pressed the group for “details” about the content of its members’ prayers at a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. The IRS then demanded that the group refrain from activities at Planned Parenthood that could be construed as protesting or picketing by police or harassing or being confrontational with abortion-bound clients.

IRS officials also demanded that every member of the board of directors of the Coalition sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that they would not picket or protest or organize others to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood.

Thomas More Society affiliate and tax specialist Sally Wagenmaker responded to the IRS with a lengthy recital of legal objections to its inquiries and demands, and threatened legal action if the IRS persisted in violating the Coalition’s First Amendment rights.

Soon thereafter, the IRS quietly advised the Coalition that it would receive its tax exemption.

“This is a great victory for the Coalition for Life of Iowa, and for all non-profit groups,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.

“The IRS must operate within the constraints of law, and it cannot condition the grant of tax exempt status on the forfeiture or surrender of First Amendment rights on the part of any non-profit group or individual American citizens,” he said.

“We join the Coalition for Life of Iowa in the celebration of its victory and remain prepared to defend advocates for life against government abuse or threats – no matter however, wherever, or whenever they may suffer such abuse or threats.”

See related coverage:

IRS Demands that Pro-Life Group Swear it Will Not Oppose Planned Parenthood