16th November 1985
So here I am, immured in an imitation Tower of London, in a filthy, sunless cell! – Holmesburg County prison here in my native city and country of Philadelphia. I shall have to return to Pittsburgh at the end of next week after our trial here. I believe I dropped a note to you in the course of our trial there.
I was the last to testify, in my own defense, for about two hours. I was about to get a good deal of information to the jury about the substantive issue – abortion. Thye found us not guilty on the misdemeanor counts of malicious mischief, showing they had enough sense to see through the lies of the abortion clinic employees and the Pittsburgh police. Unfortunately they could not bring themselves to disregard the strict letter of the law and found us guilty of criminal trespass, a felony charge (possibly sentence 71/2 years and $7,000 fine) and of defiant trespass, (possible sentence 2 years plus $1,000 fine).
Joan Andrews and I went before the judge about an hour later. He said our sentencing would be some weeks in the future. Pending that we could be released on $5,000 bail AND on the condition not to trespass at any abortion mill in the U.S. Our attorney told the judge that neither of us had ever missed a court date unless we were in jail and certainly would not do so in this case. He also told the judge that we would not pay bail as a matter of principle and that under no circumstances would we agree to stay away from the abortion mills. The prosecutor filled the judge in on our record – 110 arrests for Joan, a mere 15 for me – and on our cases currently pending in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, (also New Jersey for me).
Joan Andrews told the judge why she refused to put up bail and why she would never agree to the condition that he set for our release. She asked him to sentence her straight away so that she could begin serving her sentence. He refused, saying he needed more time to think about it. She told him, bravely, not to have any illusion that a harsh sentence would deter her from continuing. No matter what the sentence was, as soon as she had served it, she would go right back to saving babies by peaceful direct action. The only was she would be stopped would be by death of by a life sentence. I told the judge I concurred.
I then told the judge that I had vowed long ago never to walk away from anyone, born or unborn, in danger of death and the condition he had set would do just that. It would make me violate my conscience. I reminded him that we are in the middle of a holocaust, that 20 million babies had died and told him Joan and I were ready to give up our freedom, even our lives, to stop it. Alluding to his statements during our trial that we should employ only legal methods (though he forbade us the use of the justification defense which would have shown that our methods were legal), and seek to change the law, I told him I had been active in the pro-life movement since 1970. I had served as treasurer of the state-wide Pro-Life Federation for ten years. I had lobbied, educated, organized and done all the other ‘legal’ things. These were fine and should be continued, but they would save children 5, 10, or 20 years from now whereas direct action at the clinics was the only means, other than prayer, to save the children of today – those scheduled to die now.
The judge replied that he understood our position and how deeply we felt about it and that this case had caused him much thought. He understood that we had strong principles but he too was a man of principle and the law was the law and must be obeyed no matter how we feel about it personally. (I refrained from telling him this was substantially the same argument used by the German judges and functionaries at Nuremberg.) So then Joan and I were handcuffed and brought across to the County Prison, although this past Thursday two Deputies from Philadelphia came to the prison to bring me back for a trial here, starting Monday November 18th.
I did not tell you before but, irony of ironies, the judge in our case, one Raymond Novak, is an inactive Catholic priest. And so we come to this, a Catholic priest throwing Catholic lay people in jail for simply obeying the teaching of the Christian faith! God help us all. God bless you Sara, please keep praying for us as we shall for you.
Reprinted from Human Life Matters – a new “journal of the human life council” in England, January 1986.