Minneapolis ordinance restricts freedom of speech for pro-life activists

Minneapolis ordinance restricts freedom of speech for pro-life activistsA motorist speaks with a pedestrian outside the Minneapolis Planned Parenthood (Pro-Life Action Ministries/Public domain)

In the state of Minnesota, state and local officials have attacked pro-life advocates, making their fight synonymous to going up against an opponent in an arena where the rules are skewed, and the referees join with the opponent to defeat you.

Earlier this past fall the Minnesota attorney general took actions that were a blatant attack on the work of pregnancy help, making pregnancy centers in the state the subject of a bogus consumer alert.

More recently in November the city of Minneapolis passed an ordinance which effectively prevents Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM) from providing what could be the only information on options other than abortion women going to the Planned Parenthood center would receive.

The way this ordinance was constructed and unanimously passed by the city council reveals the level of cooperation Planned Parenthood receives in Minneapolis. It is likely St. Paul will follow suit as Planned Parenthood is already working with that city council in the same manner.

The ordinance was crafted by Lisa Goodman, pro-life group Live Action reports, a former executive director of Minnesota NARAL who is all in on expanding abortion.

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In the process of promoting the ordinance Goodman and the council invited Planned Parenthood staff to present their testimony.

The invitations from the city council to testify were one-sided.

“We were not afforded and opportunity to comment before the City Council,” noted Brian Gibson, executive director of PLAM out of St. Paul, “leaving only the testimony from Planned Parenthood personnel.”

Among the claims to justify the ordinance were that traffic safety was hindered by pro-life advocates and that interference with vehicles entering Planned Parenthood was occurring.

Planned Parenthood presented video footage and photos of the driveway entrance. None of them showed any cars backed up on the street. 

“If they had even one camera angle of any car being backed up, that would have been shown,” Gibson said. “So there has never been a back-up of cars.

The ordinance prohibits demonstrators and pro-life advocates from stepping onto the public sidewalk that crosses the driveway into the Planned Parenthood while there is a vehicle in the driveway area. So, they cannot approach cars. 

When there are no vehicles pedestrians can cross the driveway, however they must continue walking all the way to the next street corner. They must not change their rate of movement or direction. 

Tweet This: Minneapolis passed an ordinance effectively preventing pro-life advocates from approaching women on their way into Planned Parenthood

Gibson learned after the ordinance was passed that it had been in the works for five months before the council acted upon it, in collusion with Planned Parenthood. Since then, he has been able to confirm similar activity has been taking place between the St. Paul City Council and Planned Parenthood.

“To be perfectly clear, had there been a shred of evidence that we interfere with access to this Planned Parenthood, Minnesota and Federal FACE laws would have been invoked,” Gibson told Pregnancy Help News.

Gibson was referencing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act established in 1994 and typically used to prohibit sidewalk counseling outside of abortion facilities.

Given there are laws on the books to prevent PLAM or other groups from purportedly impeding the access to the Planned Parenthood facility raises the question whether the need exists to pass an ordinance that restricts sidewalk counselors from walking on the public sidewalk that crosses the Planned Parenthood driveway.

Gibson was skeptical of the need.

“If we truly interfered with their access going into the driveway, we would already be in prison,” he said.

The Planned Parenthood center’s security cameras catch the patterns of PLAM volunteers exercising their free speech rights. The pre-ordinance footage showed them offering brochures to women driving into the clinic parking lot and it is up to the driver whether they stop, put down their window and receive the pamphlet. 

None of this activity keeps Planned Parenthood clients from entering the facility. 

The city of Minneapolis crime rate has soared with more than 300 police officers leaving the force and a shocking 236% increase in carjackings. Gibson pointed out that while these issues go unaddressed, abortion remains the priority for the city’s officials.

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey signed the ordinance with Planned Parenthood officials present. Frey stated the ordinance was, “a really big step in the direction we need to go as a city.”

PLAM intends to seek legal action regarding the violation of their first amendment rights with the help of the Thomas More Society. 

Since the ordinance went into effect, PLAM has continued to be at the Planned Parenthood location and follow the restrictions as written. They do not enter the driveway area but still hold up the information they are offering to those entering the facility.

In one instance a woman driving into the Planned Parenthood facility stopped in the driveway, rolled down her window and asked the PLAM volunteer to bring her the literature. The PLAM member told her she could not go onto the driveway. 

The woman put her car in park, leaving it in the driveway, walked over to the PLAM counselor, received the literature and spent several minutes standing there talking with her. She thanked the counselor for being there.

“By prohibiting us from going to the window, this whole scenario blocked the driveway for about 10 times as long as it would have been had they been able to just walk to the car,” Gibson noted.

“It was a demonstration of the fact that it is the driver who all along has been stopping of their own free choice,” he said. “What we’ve been doing is more pro-choice than what Planned Parenthood offers.” 

“Regardless of what happens, God is still God in heaven,” Gibson said, “and we are still going to be obedient and do what we can to try and save the lives of the unborn and bring an end to this insanity of killing the most defenseless and innocent among us.”

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