While abortion facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina, have been allowed to continue operating during the COVID-19 outbreak, pro-life groups have not been afforded the same opportunity.
On April 4, several members of the pro-life group Cities4Life were peacefully standing outside an abortion facility. Then the police arrived.
It didn’t matter that these pro-life witnesses were following all the guidelines put into place by North Carolina’s “stay-at-home” order—they only gathered in groups of less than 10 people and maintained a distance of six feet from others. It also didn’t matter that Cities4Life a non-profit organization, is an “essential service” and therefore permitted to stay active during the state’s lockdown.
The police still arrested several pro-life advocates for “violating” the stay-at-home order, including three pastors and David Benham, who is the president of Cities4Life.
You might have heard of the Benham Brothers: David and his twin brother Jason were in the news in 2014 after HGTV cancelled their upcoming home improvement show because of the brothers’ beliefs about marriage.
After a video of David’s exchange with a police officer was posted on the brother’s Twitter account, they are in the news yet again.
This morning, @daviddbenham was unlawfully arrested while supporting sidewalk counselors outside an abortion clinic. Many have labeled David a fake Christian and claimed that he endangered lives by being out. These accusations couldn’t further from the truth. pic.twitter.com/5NB629z3CH— Benham Brothers (@BenhamBrothers) April 5, 2020
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) even retweeted the video, calling the arrests “unconstitutional.”
He’s right. No one should be arrested for demonstrating on a public sidewalk. This is a blatant violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom has sent a demand letter to the City of Charlotte on behalf of David Benham, Cities4Life, and Love Life volunteers.
While we all should be cognizant of guidelines like social distancing and other precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the government shouldn’t apply these guidelines unequally. Love Life is an essential business and was within its rights to gather while practicing social distancing.
On the other hand, it’s also troubling that abortion facilities are considered “essential businesses” by North Carolina and many other states. The abortion businesses shouldn’t be able to skirt social-distancing guidelines that other medical professionals must abide by, and use valuable medical supplies just so they can continue to profit during a national emergency. Especially not while pro-life witnesses are carted off to jail for peacefully praying and providing much needed material support for expectant mothers and fathers outside their doors.
As a nation, we should be banding together to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Allowing abortion businesses to continue operations while arresting pro-life volunteers goes directly against this goal.
Working with ADF attorneys, Lorie Smith’s case currently awaits a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, after a lower court ruled against her earlier this year.