Thomas More Society Lends its Voice to Silenced Pro-Life Sidewalk Counselor

December 17, 2010

DETROIT, (MetroCatholic) — Wednesday in Wayne County Circuit Court, the Chicago-based Thomas More Society appeared with veteran sidewalk counselor Chris Coatney to seek dismissal of a personal protective order against him. The order was entered after the manager of the Summit Women’s Center, a Detroit abortion clinic, alleged Coatney was stalking her by following and threatening her, an assertion he denies. The motion to dismiss the personal protective order was denied, and the Society will now try to overturn it on appeal or in the trial court.

“This is a gross abuse of the stalking law to suppress the free speech of a 9-year sidewalk counseling veteran,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. “It’s a travesty that one of the best sidewalk counselors in Michigan is now prohibited from doing what he is called to do - peaceably and persuasively speaking the message of life to abortion-bound women.”

The alleged incident occurred in September, although Coatney says he has video evidence to prove these allegations are false. Under the current personal protective order, Coatney is required to stay at least 100 feet away from the abortion clinic, thereby prohibiting him from sidewalk counseling, which he has done every day at the abortion clinic since April.

For more information or to speak with Tom Brejcha, please contact Stephanie Lewis at 312-422-1333 or [email protected].

About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit

Bishops’ Spokeswoman Urges Institute of Medicine Committee to Focus on Life-Saving Preventive Health Services for Women, Exclude Contraception, Sterilization

November 16, 2010

Contraception is not authentic preventive health care because pregnancy is not a disease
Birth control poses serious health risks to women and adolescents
Mandating coverage would pose unprecedented threat to conscience rights

WASHINGTON (MetroCatholic) — Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressed the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Preventive Services for Women as they convened for the first time on November 16th. She urged them not to recommend contraception or sterilization among mandated “preventive services” to be announced next August by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the Department implements the new health care act.

“As you study the vital question of preventive services for women under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), I urge you to focus on services that will offer authentic care and save lives,” she said. McQuade serves as assistant director for policy and communications at the bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

Echoing the letter sent by the Office of the General Counsel ( to HHS on September 17, McQuade said, “The Conference has a particular concern that contraceptives and sterilization not be mandated as ‘preventive’ services. To prevent pregnancy is not to prevent a disease—indeed, contraception and sterilization pose their own unique and serious health risks to women and adolescents. In addition, contraceptives and sterilization are morally problematic for many stakeholders, including religiously-affiliated health care providers and insurers.”

According to McQuade, the preventive services recommended under the Interim Final Rules share a basic medical profile. “They pose little or no medical risk themselves, and they help prevent or ameliorate identifiable conditions that would pose known risks to life and health in the future,” McQuade said, but contraception “presents the opposite profile.”

She continued, “Use of prescription contraception actually increases a woman’s risk of developing some of the very conditions that the ‘preventive services’ listed in the Interim Final Rules are designed to prevent, such as stroke, heart attacks and blood clots (especially for women who also smoke), so a policy mandating contraceptive services as ‘preventive services’ would be in contradiction with itself.”

McQuade added, “At various times women may have serious personal reasons for wanting to avoid or delay a pregnancy. However, these personal reasons do not transform a temporary or permanent condition of infertility into a prerequisite for health, or turn a healthy pregnancy into a disease condition.”

She also highlighted the potential impact on conscience rights. “Currently, such employers and insurance issuers [who object to contraception and sterilization] are completely free under federal law to purchase and offer health coverage that excludes these procedures. They would lose this freedom of conscience under a mandate for all plans to offer contraception and sterilization coverage,” McQuade said. “Thus the Administration’s promise that Americans who like their current coverage will be able to keep it under health care reform would become a hollow pledge.”

She concluded, “The Administration rightly does not include contraceptives or sterilization as preventive services in its Interim Final Rules, and future rulemaking or other guidance should also refrain from doing so. We hope these considerations will be taken into account as the Institute of Medicine prepares to make its recommendations on a final list of required preventive services for women.”

Settlement Reached in Pro-Life Activists’ Suit Against City of Birmingham

November 11, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (MetroCatholic) — Life Legal Defense Foundation today announced the settlement of the federal civil rights action it filed last June against the city of Birmingham, Alabama, on behalf of a group of young pro-life activists. The settlement includes payment to plaintiffs for both monetary damages and their attorneys’ fees.

The suit, filed in early June, arose from an incident in February 2009, when nine members of the Survivors (, based in Riverside, California, were arrested and jailed overnight for displaying pro-life signs and handing out literature on a public sidewalk outside a high school in Birmingham. Rather than investigating the incident and admitting that the police had violated the Survivors’ rights, the city later filed misdemeanor trespass charges against them. These criminal charges were only dismissed after the federal lawsuit was filed.

In the course of seeking injunctive relief against future interference with the Survivors’ right to engage in picketing and leafleting on the public sidewalk, LLDF lawyers learned that the city had a “demonstration” ordinance that required groups as small as two persons to obtain permits before engaging in various free speech activity.

“What started as a lawsuit to get fair treatment for the Survivors evolved into a broader challenge to the city’s unconstitutional permit scheme,” said Katie Short, legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “We learned from local pro-lifers that this law had been a thorn in their side for years. We are pleased that this suit not only vindicated the Survivors’ rights, but also relieved the local pro-life community of the burden of this onerous law.”

The Survivors were represented by LLDF attorneys Katie Short and Allison Aranda, as well as by local counsel Phillip Jauregui and Caroline Allen of Jauregui & Lindsey in Birmingham. The case was Turn the Hearts v. City of Birmingham, No. 2:10-CV-01477-LSC.

Life Legal Defense Foundation is a non-profit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens, committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information call Allison K. Aranda at 951-541-9327.

Palin Headlines Heroic Media’s Inaugural Event

November 11, 2010

Sarah Palin 014Heroic Media made its presence known last night in Dallas in a big way by treating pro-lifers to an evening of anecdotal-laced personal testimonies and words of encouragement from some of Texas’ and the nation’s most influential pro-life leaders.  With WBAP’s Mark Davis as Master of Ceremonies, the evening began with a brief introduction from Heroic Media’s Executive Director in Dallas, Mike Murray.  Mr. Murray was followed by an opening invocation from former Texas district 30 congressional candidate and African American pro-life leader Pastor Stephen Broden.  After the opening prayer Heroic Media’s Director of Communication, Kimberly Guidry Speirs, discussed Heroic Media’s mission and results.  Dallas’ mayor, Tom Leppert, made a brief appearance on stage to introduce the evening’s headliner, former vice presidential nominee, Governor Sarah Palin.  Palin was followed by a brief speech from Texas Governor Rick Perry and then Heroic Media’s Maureen McHenry gave her own moving personal testimony as to the difficult decisions women are faced with when an unplanned pregnancy occurs.  The evening culminated in a Q and A session with Governor’s Palin and Perry, along with Pastor Stephen Broden and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The audience was treated to Palin’s edearing tales of family life in Wasilla, Alaska, including her own unplanned pregnancy with Trig, who has Downs Syndrome, her daughter Bristol’s unplanned pregancy, and how while both turned out to be great blessings from God, they also gave Sarah a new perspective on the difficult choices women in unplanned pregnancies are faced with.  While Sarah’s charisma filled the room, it was the personal testimony of Heroic Media’s Maureen McHenry that really touched me the most.  After becoming pregnant while in college and revealing the news to her parents with great fear and trepidation, the pressure to abort came not from her parents but from her college friends, the last people she thought would judge her.  Her condemnation of their response to her situation was stinging, “You can share the same faith as someone but not the same values.”  Considering President Obama, arguably the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history could not have been elected without obtaining overwhelming support from Catholic voters, I call on all Catholics to ponder miss McHenry’s statement.

While Heroic Media’s pro-life television, billboard, and social media campaign’s in Austin, where it is headquartered, have reduced the abortion ratio by 24% in only five years, the abortion rate in Dallas has risen by 19% over the same period.  Texas reported 81,591 abortions in 2008, enough to fill Cowboys Stadium.  While Dallas’ numerous crisis pregnancy centers, the Diocese of Dallas’ Catholic Pro-Life Committee (CPLC), and the 40 Days for Life prayer campaigns do a wonderful job of providing support and resources for mothers during unplanned pregnancies, they need help in reaching the women prior to them making the decision to abort.  Heroic Media, a Majella Cares Outreach, is a faith-based non-profit that places television, internet and billboard advertisements that counter the pro-abortion messages that women are bombarded with from groups like taxpayer funded Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Heroic Media requests and requires the support of the DFW area’s Catholic community in order to complete their spring 2011 campaign which will cost in excess of $600,000.  In order to learn more about Heroic Media or to donate please go to .

Pro-Life Author and Activist Hopes to Reach New Audience with Ads

October 4, 2010

ATLANTA (MetroCatholic) — Katie Reid, author of the ground-breaking pro-life book, When the Bough Breaks, starts an advertising campaign on Life News today. The goal of the ads is to reach a new audience with the simple truth that the unborn need representation.

“The unborn cannot speak for themselves,” says Ms. Reid. “What I attempt to do in my book is to give these precious innocent children a voice. My prayer is that people will start to listen and more actively protect the most vulnerable among us.”

The advertising campaign will run throughout the month of October and precedes the launch of Ms. Reid’s YouTube channel featuring an interview with the author about the inspiration and content of her book.

Alongside a graphic of Katie Reid’s book cover are the simple words:

The unborn defend their own lives
A book of tremendous power and truth
that will empower all of us to defend the least of us

Katie Reid’s book is available at, Barnes and Noble and You may also order a book and get more information about Ms. Reid from To schedule an interview with Ms. Reid, contact Heather Cirmo with 440 Group Public Relations at 213-864-6645, [email protected]

New Poll: Americans Continue to Oppose Tax Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Support Ethical Alternatives

September 20, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic)— As the U.S. Senate prepares to hold a hearing on human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR), a new public opinion poll shows that a plurality of Americans (47 percent) oppose federal funding of stem cell research that involves destroying human embryos, while only thirty-eight percent (38 percent) support such funding. The poll, conducted by ICR / International Communications Research, surveyed 1,006 adults September 8-14. It was commissioned by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Survey respondents were informed that stem cells can also be obtained from adults, placentas from live births and other ways that do no harm to the donor, and that scientists disagree on whether stem cells from embryos or from such alternative sources may end up being most successful in treating diseases. Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) favor funding only the research avenues that do not harm the donor, while only twenty-one percent (21 percent) favored funding all stem cell research, including research that involves killing embryonic human beings.
“The Senate should not be misled on this important issue,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. “Most Americans do not support federally funded research that requires destroying human embryos. They want their tax dollars used for stem cell research that is ethically sound as well as medically promising – the kind of research that has attracted the interest and commitment of more and more stem cell experts in recent years.”
The new poll also shows continued overwhelming opposition to human cloning, whether to provide children for infertile couples (83 percent against) or to produce embryos that would be destroyed in medical research (76 percent against).
A comparison with three identical polls conducted by ICR in August 2004, May 2005, and May 2006 shows a consistent level of moral concern on this issue on the part of the American public. Federally funded hESCR has never garnered majority support in this poll, starting at a high of 43 percent over six years ago in August 2004. When informed of their options, most Americans consistently support funding only stem cell research that does not require destroying embryos. The ICR polls also consistently show opposition of 76 percent or higher to human cloning, whether for reproduction or medical research.
The survey was conducted September 8-14, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults ages 18 and older. Sampling, data collection and tabulation were provided by ICR / International Communications Research of Media, Pa. The four poll questions, results and methodology follow.

ICR / International Communications Research
Stem Cell Research Study
September 8-14, 2010


Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a person’s tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering the question of federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments?

Don’t Know

Stem cells for research can be obtained by destroying human embryos. They can also be obtained from adults, from placentas left over from live births, and in other ways that do no harm to the donor. Scientists disagree on which source may end up being most successful in treating diseases. How would you prefer your tax dollars to be used this year for stem cell research?

Supporting all methods, including those that
require destroying human embryos,
to see which will be most successful
208 21%
Supporting research using adult stem cells
and other alternatives, to see if there is
no need to destroy human embryos for research
576 57%
(VOLUNTEERED) Neither                                            
Don’t Know                                                                    

Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to try to create children for infertile couples?

Don’t Know

Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?

Don’t Know

The survey was conducted September 8 - 14, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults ages 18 and older. Respondents were selected using an address-based random sample design. Households for which a phone number could be ascertained were contacted by phone; others were contacted by mail and asked to complete the survey via a toll-free inbound phone number or the internet. Results for the full sample have a 3.07-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by ICR / International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

Sarah Palin to speak in Dallas on behalf of Heroic Media

September 17, 2010

DALLAS (MetroCatholic) – Former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin is speaking on behalf of Heroic Media Nov. 10, 2010 at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas.

Heroic Media president, Brian Follett, said the organization is pleased to have Palin speak. “We are honored to have her share her personal experiences regarding the Life issue with us,” he said.

Heroic Media, a Majella Cares Outreach, is a faith-based non-profit that places television, internet and billboard advertisements to help women facing unexpected pregnancies.  Their advertisements provide help line numbers that connect women with pregnancy resource centers.  Since Heroic Media began operations in Austin Texas six years ago, the abortion ratio there has dropped 24 percent. The abortion ratio is the number of abortions for every 1,000 live births.

Because Heroic Media celebrates the heroism of motherhood, Executive Director Mike Murray said it was fitting to invite Palin to speak. “Sarah’s faith and commitment to protecting life at every stage is evident in her words and actions,” he said.

Sarah Palin first made history in 2006 when she was sworn in as the first female governor of Alaska. In August 2008, Senator John McCain tapped Palin to serve as his vice-presidential running mate, making her the first woman to run on the Republican Party’s presidential ticket. She is the author of “Going Rogue: An American Life,” which was an immediate best seller.

For sponsorship information, call 214-491-0026. Tickets are available online at

Cardinal Dinardo Urges Support for Law Preventing Federal Funding of Abortion

August 23, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called on members of the House of Representatives to support the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 5939), introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) at the end of July.
He called for support in an August 20 letter.  The bill already has 166 co-sponsors including 20 Democratic members. The text of the letter can be found at 
“H.R. 5939 will write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use taxpayers’ money to support and promote elective abortion,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “Even public officials who take a ‘pro-choice’ stand on abortion, and courts that have insisted on the validity of a constitutional ‘right’ to abortion, have agreed that the government can validly use its funding power to encourage childbirth over abortion.”
He said some people assume this position already is fully reflected in U.S. law, and noted, for example, that “some wrongly argued during the recent debate on health care reform that there was no need for restrictions on abortion funding in the new health legislation, because this matter had already been settled by the Hyde amendment.”
However, he noted, the Hyde amendment, which precludes money for elective abortions and health plans that provide them, is only a rider to the annual Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill. It has been maintained essentially intact by Congress over the last 35 years, but it only governs funds appropriated under that particular act. 
Federal funds are prevented now from funding abortion by riders to various other appropriations bills as well as by provisions incorporated into specific authorizing legislation for the Department of Defense, Children’s Health Insurance Program, foreign assistance, and so on. Gaps or loopholes in these protections have also been discovered at various times, requiring Congress to address them individually.   
Thus, “while Congress’s policy has been remarkably consistent for decades, implementation of that policy in practice has been piecemeal and sometimes sadly inadequate,” Cardinal DiNardo said. 

H.R. 5939 would also codify the Hyde/Weldon amendment that has been part of the section containing the Hyde amendment in annual Labor/HHS appropriations bills since 2004.  Hyde/Weldon has ensured that federal agencies and state and local governments that receive federal funds do not discriminate against health care providers because they do not perform or provide abortions. 

“It is long overdue for this policy, as well, to be given a more secure legislative status,’’ Cardinal DiNardo said. “No hospital, doctor or nurse should be forced to stop providing much-needed legitimate health care because they cannot in conscience participate in destroying a developing human life.”

Cardinal DiNardo Presents ‘People of Life’ Awards to Three Honorees

August 12, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) -  Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and as chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, presented the People of Life award to three individuals for their lifetime commitment to the pro-life movement at a ceremony in Houston August 9. Those honored were Professor William E. May, Msgr. Philip J. Reilly and Patricia Bainbridge. Over 85 diocesan pro-life directors from across the country attended the private awards dinner during the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities’ annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference.

The People of Life Award recognizes those who have answered the call outlined by Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, 1995) by dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed on occasion to a practicing Catholic in honor of his or her significant contribution in service to the culture of life.

William E. May holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Marquette University and has taught at several Catholic universities. He is currently a senior fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation, and emeritus Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America. He has written over 226 journal articles, has authored, co-authored, or edited 24 books, and is currently working on three more, including the third edition of Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life.  He holds several major awards, including the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal from Pope John Paul II in 1991. He was appointed by the Holy See to serve on several commissions and advisory groups, including the background work on the 2008 document, Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Person). Professor May has been married for 52 years, is the father of seven and grandfather of fifteen grandchildren.

Msgr. Philip J. Reilly has devoted most of his 50-year-long priestly ministry to the pro-life cause. He fought the legalization of abortion in New York before the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, helped to organize the first national March for Life in Washington in 1974, and served as a witness to uphold the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding of abortion in most circumstances. In 1989, Monsignor Reilly founded the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, Inc., to focus on prayer efforts and sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics. For over twenty years, five days a week, he has counseled and prayed on the streets outside abortion clinics. He continues to serve as executive director of the Helpers and travels internationally to train others how to hold peaceful, loving prayer vigils and to offer constructive assistance to those in crisis both before and after abortion.

Patricia Bainbridge has served the pro-life movement since 1978. She recently retired from her ten-year post as director of the Respect Life Office and Natural Family Planning Coordinator for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, where she was also the “Lifelines” columnist for the diocesan paper. For seven years during her service, Bainbridge chaired the Department of Life for the Catholic Conference of Illinois. Prior to her diocesan work, Bainbridge founded the Christian Action Council of Western New York in the eighties, co-founded Life Decisions International, and served on the board of Christian Tapes for the Blind and Disabled, among other civic groups. She is a board member of several pro-life organizations serving the diverse needs of pregnant and post-abortive women, and raising awareness about the dignity of human life; and is chairman of the board of Human Life International. Married for 40 years, she and her husband were received into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2001.

Since the award’s inception three years ago, the Pro-Life Secretariat has honored 11 people with the People of Life Award. In 2007, the recipients were: John Bruchalski, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., founder/director of Divine Mercy Care and Tepeyac Family Center; Molly Kertz, retired director of the Respect Life Office, Archdiocese of St. Louis; and Thomas J. Marzen (awarded posthumously), former director of the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled. The 2008 award recipients were: Carolyn Brown-Davis (awarded posthumously), advocate and organizer for the African American, African and Caribbean communities; Ann Dierks, retired director of the Respect Life Office and director of Project Rachel, Diocese of Little Rock; and Ralph Miech, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology, founding member of the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, speaker, author, and expert witness on life issues. In 2009, the following honorees received the People of Life Award: Hanna Klaus, M.D., director of the Natural Family Planning Center of Washington, DC, and founder of TeenSTAR Program; Virginia McCaskey, pro-life advocate and witness; and Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and executive director, National Office ofPost-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing (NOPARH). Earlier this year, two college students were recognized with the first People of Life Student Leader Awards: Thomas Nellson, director of pro-life hospitality, The Catholic University of America; and Lauren Roselli, former president, Students for Life, Catholic University of America.

For more information on the bishops’ People of Life campaign, visit

Thomas More Society Backs Down West Chicago to Allow Pro-Life Demonstration Tomorrow

July 9, 2010

CHICAGO (MetroCatholic)- Yesterday, attorneys from the Thomas More Society, on the eave of seeking emergency injunctive relief in federal court, secured an agreement from the city of West Chicago to allow a pro-life protest to proceed there Friday morning.

West Chicago officials had notified the Thomas More Society early Thursday that the Pro-Life Action League’s “Face the Truth Tour” protest, which involves people holding abortion signage at busy intersections in various municipalities, would not be permitted to take place Friday morning in that city, due to a new ordinance for demonstrations and protests. Adopted just this past Tuesday by the city of West Chicago, the ordinance requires would-be demonstrators to apply for a permit at least 90 days prior to a demonstration. The ordinance also allows denial of a permit based on the city administrator’s determination whether he believes a demonstration will negatively affect public “comfort, morals, and welfare.”

After pointing out the various constitutional deficiencies to the city’s attorneys, Thomas More Society attorneys prepared federal court papers to secure an injunction to allow the protest to proceed. Just prior to the initiation of court proceedings, the attorneys for the city agreed to allow the protest and to take a fresh look at the West Chicago demonstration ordinance, with the assistance of the Thomas More Society.

“The West Chicago demonstration ordinance illegally restricts core speech protected by our federal Constitution. By agreeing to allow the peaceful pro-life protest tomorrow and to take a fresh look at that ordinance, the officials of West Chicago have wisely recognized the primacy of our sacred free speech rights,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel. “Due to the increased legal action being taken against pro-life people around the country, we will continue to oppose ordinances like these to ensure that pro-life individuals can continue to exercise their rights to peacefully speak, pray and protest.”

About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit

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