Judge Advances Obama Administration’s Case Against Elderly Pro-life Activist
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 16, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A federal judge has ruled that the Justice Department’s may proceed with its prosecution of a peaceful 80-year-old pro-life counselor.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Emanuel (“Jeb”) Boasberg denied Richard Retta’s petition to have federal charges dismissed. The Obama administration alleges that Retta violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act in January 2011 by standing in front of a woman at a D.C. abortion mill, blocking the entrance. The federal complaint states she was only able to enter the facility with the “extraordinary assistance” of two employees. As she entered, Retta told her, “Don’t let them kill your baby.”
The government is seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit Retta and “his representatives, employees, agents, and any others” from “coming near the clinic Gate,” as well as a $10,000 civil penalty and statutory damages of $5,000 for each of three “victims.”
Retta stated the government did not prove the woman was seeking an abortion and failed to show his motive violated the Clinton-era abortion law. However, Boasberg ruled that defendants need only think women are obtaining an abortion; “allegations that they were in fact doing so, accordingly are not required.”
“If they can’t get us legitimately, they’ll do whatever they can, whatever means they can to succeed,” Peter Shinn, the president of Pro-Life Unity and Cherish Life Ministries, told LifeSiteNews.com.
Retta prints a 22-page training manual instructing volunteers “DO NOT block the woman’s path,” and “Avoid being intimidating in any way.”
Retta, who goes by Dick, is described by the government as a “regular anti-abortion protestor at the Planned Parenthood in Metropolitan, Washington,” and “among the most vocal and aggressive anti-abortion protestors outside the Clinic.”
Retta told LifeSiteNews.com he is far from aggressive. “If I’m down there, and someone is coming in or out [of the door], I always [say], ‘Please don’t let them take their life. Please, we can and will help you. Please, choose life.’”
“I’m sure people in the waiting room hear me when the door is open,” he said. He offers women information about counseling and medical services. He says, unlike Planned Parenthood, he helps post-abortive women.
Retta believes sidewalk counselors have saved 1,400 lives at that facility alone. This year, they saved 140 unborn babies, double last year’s number.
Retta says he has often seen women change their minds about an abortion without any contact with a counselor. “Is she aware I’m out there praying for her, and 2 or 3 others are out there praying for her? In response to our willingness to be there, does the Holy Spirit change people’s hearts?”
He began praying outside the clinic in 1998 and advanced to counseling women in 2001. “I never felt I was suitable for being a sidewalk counselor,” Retta told LifeSiteNews. “I’m too shy, too low-key, too inhibited.” He continues his counseling and prayer ministry despite having had quadruple bypass surgery and two knee replacements.
The federal government’s aggressive prosecution is a stark contrast from the way prosecutors dealt with a woman Retta says pepper sprayed him last July, just before being informed of the FACE charges. Retta said a judge let the woman go on condition on good behavior. Retta and his lawyer are considering a civil lawsuit.
The Justice Department’s new priorities won the approval of officials in the abortion industry. “There’s been a substantial difference between this administration and the one immediately prior,” Ellen Gertzog, director of security for Planned Parenthood, told NPR.
“Obviously there is collusion between Planned Parenthood and the federal government,” Shinn told LifeSiteNews. “Someone at Planned Parenthood called someone they knew in the Justice Department, and maybe it was Holder himself.”