WATCH: Police arrest pro-lifers outside abortion center for allegedly breaking stay-at-home order Sign the petition here.
GREENSBORO, North Carolina, March 30, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Four pro-life men in North Carolina were arrested Saturday for allegedly violating their jurisdiction’s coronavirus stay-at-home order mere moments after arriving outside of an abortion center for the purpose of defending the preborn while respectfully asserting their rights to do so under the law.
Jason Oesterreich, 42, Justin Reeder, 34, Carl Ubinas, 53, and Isaiah Burner, 23, who are with the Charlotte-based pro-life group Love Life, filmed themselves heading to the parking lot of a Greensboro abortion clinic. The group explained that they were going there in response to reports that prayer walkers and sidewalk counselors had been forced to disperse by police. The men can be seen standing several feet apart, per “social distancing” guidelines, except when approaching the camera to speak.
Within minutes of arriving outside the building, a police lieutenant approaches and tells them to return to their vehicles. “You’ve got a choice right now to make, alright?” he says. “You can choose to comply with what I’m telling you, or you’re going to be charged… we are not debating right now, that debate can be had with our legal staff, who we’ve conferred with.”
One of the pro-lifers begins reading from the Guilford County COVID-19 Stay At Home order, which allows for “outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements” (standing at least six feet apart). “Outdoor activity” is listed under exceptions for “essential activities,” with outdoor examples including but not limited to “walking, hiking, golfing, running, cycling, or using the greenways.”
The order does not address outdoor activism or protest one way or another, but given that the order expressly permits recreational activity such as golf it’s unclear why being outdoors for civic purposes would be less permissible, provided social distancing is practiced.
The police do not address the statement; instead, the lieutenant simply reiterates that “I am giving you a command to leave this location.”
The pro-lifers respectfully reiterated that they intended to remain, per their understanding of the county order, and were arrested.
Among the ensuing crosstalk, one of the officers can be heard complaining that “you’re making us do this,” with another accusing the pro-lifers of intentionally “disrespecting us by doing what you’re doing.” One of the pro-lifers reiterated that they were in compliance with the law that he attempted to read to them, which fell on deaf ears.
The four pro-lifers were all charged with violating the stay-at-home order, the Greensboro News & Record reports, with all but Burner also being charged with resist, delay, and obstruction of a public officer. They have since been released from custody.
Meanwhile, elective abortions are allowed to continue in North Carolina. While many states have ordered the suspension of non-urgent medical procedures to conserve supplies and contain the virus, and some of those states have expressly halted abortions for the same reason, North Carolina has so far yet to do either.
“Abortion centers remain open for business as usual,” Love Live noted in a statement.
“There were over 20 women and children packed into that very small building in Greensboro which has to have a very small waiting room. It seems apparent that these women and children were permitted to be in close proximity with one another, against CDC guidelines, and puts them at risk for infection. If they are truly concerned about these women not getting COVID-19, why have they not shut down the abortion centers? Instead, people who are peacefully praying and practicing social distancing are getting arrested.”