Those are my opinions, but they do not seem to be shared by our local government. For Planned Parenthood, who is trying to shut down the pro-life voices outside their clinic, has been pressuring the government in every possible means (save making brand new laws; Obama is a bit to busy to keep his promise of passing FOCA, thank Jesus) to harass us. The latest, from Wednesday this week, was to call code enforcement about our ladders. Now pro-lifers look pretty extreme a lot of times not only because we have the unpopular belief that people have a right to life, but because we are trying to be law abiding behind ridiculous restrictions. To save lives we are not allowed to enter a medical facility, or its property. We cannot peacefully sit in the driveways or roads, or in front of the doors. Politics has found us inconvenient. So have police*, it seems.
So we have to yell at women, because we can’t get close enough to them to talk (8 foot bubble law within 100 feet of an abortion clinic). And we have to have big signs because kids aren’t taught the truth in school, at home, or through media. We wear t-shirts because no one else is talking about it. And we use ladders because, unlike any other medical facility in the country, these have tarps surrounding their parking lot. Men who practice wickedness like to hide. They want to block out the light and the truth. So we put up ladders and talk over the black tarp fences. (Yelling is certainly not preferable. If they park close enough, or walk by, we do talk to them. And we try to make eye contact with the mothers.) We heard one account from this past year where a baby was saved partly because of ladders. The girl couldn’t believe the man talking to her was so tall!
Code enforcement came by Wednesday. He rolled down his window and addressed me at my perch on top of a ladder. “You can’t have those on the sidewalk,” he said.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked, with naivety. I mean, I’ve been doing this a year and a half. The people who own the ladders have been coming out for decades. I’m sure if it was illegal, they would have been stopped already.
He added, “They can’t block the sidewalk.”
“People can get by.” I looked down at the three feet of space between my ladder and the road.
“You can’t have the ladders on the sidewalk.”
I then directed him to the owner of the ladders, whom I knew would know what to say. “Yes I can,” was the thing. “We’ve been to court 100 times, and we’ve won every time about the ladders.”
“I can take them,” he said.
“No you can’t,” she replied. I mean, this is hard for Christians. Because in a constitutional republic, where we have laws that guide our behavior and not arbitrary men telling us what to do, we have the right to act in accordance with those laws. But bossy little people with no real authority try to tell us what to do, and they are working for the government, so should we comply? Do we have to comply every time they talk to us, until we look up the law again and go back to doing it until they stop us again? The court told the sidewalk counselors they could use ladders on the sidewalk. So that’s what she stood for. And she threatened to call 911 if he tried to take her ladders.
So he drove away, and as we suspected he would, he called the police.
Three squad cars and an SUV came shortly, and told my friend to move her ladders. Same story. Except they could ticket her, and they had big sticks and probably guns. (They always remind me of when Jesus asked, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.”) She tends to remind policemen* that babies are about to be murdered just a few yards away, instead of sticking to their topic. Men should know what they are doing, she feels, and which side they are serving.
During her argument, one or two of the police officers went to chat with the abortion clinic security guard. A third, Catholic, chatted with a woman who had been praying her rosary before they arrived, when she spoke up. I went to find my camera and start taking pictures and prepare to video whatever was going to happen. My friend kept talking to the fourth policeman. Eventually she said that she knew the name of their commander, had spoken with her about the ladders, and that she would back her with permission to keep the ladders.
“You can move them into the street,” one officer suggested.
“Why didn’t you just say so?” With evident frustration, she descended her ladder for the first time and tugged the first one into the road. But once she had both of them in the street, they were going to cite her for having had them on the sidewalk. As you may imagine, this was met with further resistance. For one thing, after the last time they had been to court for the same legal action, my friend and her husband had warned the government that if they had to deal with the issue again, they would be in a federal first amendment lawsuit. This was brought up to reinforce the seriousness of her next statement: “I’m calling Commander –“ she said, and took out her cell phone. The station did not pick up my friend’s call, and the officers raced her to speak with their commander first. While the ladder-woman continued to wait on hold, the commander informed her people that as long as the path was not obstructed in a way in which pedestrians could not get by, the ladders could stay.
I would like to point out that during the whole incident the street was rather blocked with patrol cars, including two parked facing the wrong direction.
*Police, I imagine, got into their line of work because they wanted to defend innocent lives. To be reminded that the law protects murderers and that their official job restricts their involvement in saving lives has to be frustrating. My friend likes to invite them to join the cause, even if only when they’re off duty. And she likes to point out that they will answer to a higher authority.