Four people are in prison in a remote area. They have never been charged with a crime; they have never received even the pretence of a trial. On the arbitrary command of an appointed government official, they were simply rounded up and ordered held indefinitely. The reason- they refused to obey his demand that they do something intrinsically evil, that they act in violation of their religious beliefs, their consciences.
Sounds like a story out of Red China , perhaps the old Soviet Union. If you guessed that, you were wrong. The location of this frightening scenario is the United States of America, a country which constantly hold forth to the rest of the world its high regard for the legal process, its respect for the civil rights of everyone. Despite this public image, in this case every rule of law, even of simple justice, has been trampled on to protect the interests of the abortion industry!
The facts are that abortion lawyer Edmond Tiryak, employed by abortion entrepreneur Malcolm Polis, owner of seven abortuaries and a convicted criminal, has secured a federal injunction which rides roughshod over First Amendment rights of pro-lifers in the Philadelphia area. Tiryak has brought numerous people into the federal court claiming, falsely, that they have violated the terms of this injunction. The judge, in this case U.S. District Judge Lowell A. Reed, invariably accepts this and orders them to pay the alleged legal cost-amounting to several thousand dollars in each instance-pf bringing them into court. They have always refused on the grounds that to pay the legal expenses of an abortion “clinic” is the same as paying money to the facility, money which it would use to kill innocent children. This is intrinsically and seriously evil. These four people, all strong and knowledgeable Catholics, cannot comply with the judge’s demand, regardless of the consequences to them.
Judge Reed has charged them with “civil contempt” and has ordered them to jail to coerce them into paying what is, technically, a private debt. He does this despite the fact that the legal remedy for this is a civil judgment, debater’s prisons having been abolished a hundred and fifty years ago. The judge calls this “coercive”, since the latter is forbidden under the rules of civil contempt. Judge Reed is well aware that it is morally impossible for them to obey-two of were held in prison previously for forty days for the same reason by the same judge; he released them, saying it was apparent that coercive imprisonment would not work.
Despite this, he put them in prison again, ignoring his own words. Clearly this constitutes “punitive” imprisonment, not “coercive” and, therefore, the judge is violating the law himself.
Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that Judge Reed served for five years as a board member of an abortion-providing facility that killed over four hundred unborn children each year.
At present he is an Elder- an important official – in a church which is a member of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR). RCAR has fought to preserve abortion in the U.S. for many years. Its activities include litigation in the federal courts.
Judicial ethics call for a judge to “rescue “-that is to dismiss-himself from a case in which there could be even the appearance of conflict of interest. As someone who was, and still is ,deeply involved in the abortion business, Judge Reed is acting in violation of his oath by sitting in judgment on abortion related case.
What can be done to help these four brave pro-lifers who have been held in prison, far from their friends and families, for two months now, ad who may be held for many months more?
We ask that you pray for them, first and foremost. Pray also for their families in this time of trial. Write to them at the addresses given below. Show them they are not alone; that they are not alone; that they have friends and supporters who care about them. Next, write to those who are responsible for this illegal imprisonment and to those who can do something about it. Again, addresses are given below. Tell your friends about this terrible injustice, remembering that evil flourishes when knowledge of it is kept from the public. The recent Rodney King case showed how the pitiless glare of publicity brought an end to Los Angeles police brutality that had been going on for years.