The Roe v. Wade. Akron and Thornburgh decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, along with the Morgentaler and Borowski cases in the Canadian Supreme Court, have seriously undermined the public’s trust in, and respect for, the highest courts of justice in North America. It is not only the obvious bias and uneven handling of the cases before the courts (and this latter has been cited even by Mme. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor) that bothers the concerned citizen, it is also the seeming lack of common sense in many of the “learned” judges.
Today we are witnessing the same rot in some of the lower courts. At a time when our prisons are bulging at the seams and when penal experts are advocating that prison should be a resort only for more serious crimes, minor judges in local courts are busy sentencing men and women of good character to long prison terms, for blocking the sidewalks and entrances of abortuaries and for trespassing. Trespassing, in this case, often means stepping on a lawn or sitting on a doorstep. For such a minor deed, one elderly grandmother in the United States – a woman of high reputation – has been sentenced to three years in prison and a $1200 fine. Meanwhile, a Buffalo abortionist who used a baseball bat to attack pro-life picketers outside his home escaped with a conditional discharge and nominal payments for the windows he broke in a van and for medical bills – a total of under $348.00.
Early this March, a number of lawyers went on television in the United States to express their concern about the wrongful use of RICO laws in court cases, including those against pro-lifers.
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes are based on a 1970 U.S. federal statute and exist in 27 states. The lawyers pointed out that the laws, which impose very severe punishments, were intended to deal with racketeers and other criminal elements of society. The statutes were never intended to be used against such persons as non-violent demonstrators against abortion. The lawyers were not necessarily pro-life, but they were pro-justice. They said that the use of RICO laws to attack anti-abortionists was savage and draconian, and against the constitutional right of peaceful protest.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) has also decided to use RICO in its suits against pro-life leaders such as Joseph Scheidler and Randall Terry. Recently there have been a number of burial services for aborted babies recovered from the “trash” of abortuaries. NOW is using the racketeering law against pro-lifers charging that the bodies of the babies were “stolen.” Not part of a lawsuit, but part of a public smear campaign, is NOW’s vicious attempt to label the pro-life leaders as terrorists, arsonists and bombers.
The highest call
It is becoming increasingly clear that there are some police, some judges and some prison officials in both the United States and Canada who wish to break the spirit and resolution of the activist pro-lifers. However, it is equally clear that pro-life activism is troubling the hearts and consciences of other police, judges and lawyers. In May, 1988, Joe Daniels resigned from the Jackson, Miss., police force because he was a man of conscience. In February, 1989, he himself was arrested along with 55 others for sitting-in at an abortuary. Earlier this year another police officer in Las Vegas, Chief Gallagher, went to a rescue site and acted in response to his conscience. He declared, “I have the sworn responsibility to protect human life. It alone is the highest call and most important duty of every commissioned peace officer…Therefore, I exercise my discretion as a commissioned paw-enforcement officer choosing not to arrest these rescuers but standing with them in their attempt to prevent certain death to unborn children.”
Officer Chief Gallagher was immediately suspended from duty and arrested. His name joins that of David Packer and Joe Daniels on the Honour Roll of those anxious to serve the state, but who put God’s law first.
We can only regret that Brian Mulroney does not share these beliefs and consider that it is his responsibility, as Prime Minister of Canada, to protect the lives of all Canadian children, born or preborn. Meanwhile, we share the hope of our United States pro-life family that the current U.S. Supreme Court will either overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, or at least remove most of its underpinning.