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Supreme Court of the United States

Divine Interventions: How Legal Efforts Make a Life and Death Difference

By Alan Sears posted on:
October 17, 2017

The story, as left last week on an answering machine with New Hampshire Right to Life, goes something like this:

The loving father took his embarrassed, deeply hurting daughter to a Planned Parenthood facility in Manchester, New Hampshire, perhaps for the same reasons so many parents take their children to such a place … because she was pregnant, her partner wasn’t supportive, and she was convinced the child inside her would be more of a burden than a joy.

A few pro-life counselors were peacefully pacing the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood that day; one of them managed to snag the dad’s attention as he walked toward the building. They spoke for a moment, phone numbers were exchanged, and the father took his daughter inside.

Texting ensued. The dad, asking and answering questions from the counselor out on the sidewalk, shared what he was reading with his daughter, waiting nervously on the seat beside him. Then, a Planned Parenthood worker called the young woman’s name, and she got up and walked into the abortion room.

The worker prepared her for what was coming, asking questions, laying out instruments. A kaleidoscope of thoughts spun in the young woman’s head … finally settling into one clear, unmistakable picture. She made her final decision, gathered her clothes, dressed, and walked back out to her dad. A few months later, her healthy baby boy was born.

Friends say the baby’s life wasn’t the only one saved that day. Dad and daughter were, too.

Does any single voice for life make a difference? Planned Parenthood and its cronies in the New Hampshire state legislature seem to think so. More than a year ago, the state passed a law allowing the creation of 25-foot “censorship zones” around abortion facilities in which those who support abortion were welcome to stand and speak … but from which those supporting life were banned. 

In the summer of 2014, Alliance Defending Freedom staff and allied attorneys filed suit against the state, and secured a court order blocking immediate enforcement of that law. The order came on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in McCullen v. Coakley, striking down a similar law in Massachusetts. (ADF staff and allied attorneys had filed that case in 2008.) More than a year later the court order is still in effect, though New Hampshire officials are pressing hard to get the court to vacate its earlier ruling.

“This order guarantees that the government can’t enforce the censorship zone law – either before or after any such zones are drawn – until the court rules on our argument that the law violates freedom of speech,” says ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman.

And make no mistake: lawsuits – even unresolved ones – change a lot of things. Testifying before the New Hampshire legislature last spring, Jennifer Frizzell, vice president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said her company has not imposed anti-speech zones outside their facilities because of the ADF lawsuit. "We agreed at the attorney general's request not to go forward and enforce this law while the legal proceedings are underway," she said.

Because Planned Parenthood has balked at pushing for speech zones, over the last 14 months sidewalk counselors have been able to continue their vital work outside the company’s facilities throughout the state – and for at least a few young women like the one in Manchester, that counseling has made an eternal difference.

A popular song of a few years ago marvels at “the circle of life.” In New Hampshire, the circle works like this: ADF keeps pro-abortion legislation at bay … so that sidewalk counselors can be in front of abortion facilities, talking with frightened young women and their families … so that caring fathers like the one in Manchester can share love and truth with their daughters … so those young women can choose to embrace motherhood … so that a child’s life can be spared.

New Hampshire isn’t the only state toying with the idea of buffer zones. The circle of life I’ve described could easily come to include someone you care about very much. Please be in prayer for our ADF staff and allied attorneys, as they work diligently to keep a door open for the Gospel … and sidewalks open for people to share “wonderful words of life.”

Alan Sears

Alan Sears


Alan Sears served as founder of Alliance Defending Freedom, building on his experience as longtime leader of the organization to strengthen alliances, forge new relationships, and develop ADF resources.

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