February 13, 2009
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 5:10 PM
Subject: Lawsuit by abortionist against my parents and their parish
Last week, Dr. Allen Palmer, an abortionist who has killed more than 17,000 babies since 1976, sued Holy Spirit Catholic Church (in the St. Louis Archdiocese) and Thrive St. Louis Pregnancy Resource Services. Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are "John Doe and Jane Doe", the organizers of prayer vigils outside the abortion clinic. While they have not yet been officially served with the lawsuit, John and Jane Doe are the pro-life coordinators at Holy Spirit parish.
John and Jane Doe have organized weekly prayer vigils on the sidewalk outside the abortion clinic, and clearly their efforts are having an effect. Once recently the staff of the clinic came outside to have a counter-demonstrati on - apparently they didn't have any work to do!! And now they are filing a lawsuit to stop the prayer vigils.
A summary of the lawsuit can be found online from Courthouse News at http://www.courthou senews.com/ 2009/01/29/ Women_s_Clinic_ Sues_Anti- Abortion_ Groups.htm, and a copy of the actual lawsuit is at http://www.courthou senews.com/ 2009/01/29/ Womenscare. pdf. He is asking for $25,000 in actual damages and at least $250,000 in punitive damages along with an injunction to stop the prayer vigils.
There are two major issues raised in the lawsuit. The first involves accusations such as trespassing and "harassing and detaining" patients as they try to enter the building. Many of these accusations are simply untrue (but as we know, the truth does not always win out in court). Others are more complicated - Thrive St. Louis Pregnancy Resource Services has offices in the same building as the abortion clinic, so they actually have a legal right to be on the private property and to use the parking lot (which is quite large and never even close to full). Despite this fact, they keep their prayer vigils off of the private property and confined to the nearby public sidewalk.
The other major issue raised in the lawsuit is defamation of character. The lawsuit quotes the parish bulletin at Holy Spirit as calling the abortion clinic "an abortion mill" and the doctor an "abortionist who has been killing unborn babies there for more than thirty years." This is true - that's what the bulletin said. But the statement itself is also completely true!! Dr. Palmer himself has filed a sworn affidavit in another case in which he attests to the truth of these claims - he has sworn that in court that he has "safely" performed 17,000 abortions at his facility since 1976. (See http://reproductive rights.org/ sites/crr. civicactions. net/files/ documents/ Affidavit% 20of%20Palmer. pdf.) So the lawsuit is claiming that speaking the truth is defamation of character!
If Dr. Palmer should somehow win this lawsuit, the precedent would be disastrous for all of us in the pro-life movement. It seems quite unlikely that he will win - the lawyers from the St. Louis Archdiocese and others that my parents have talked to think that it is primarily a nuisance lawsuit intended first to intimidate them and second to hopefully get at least a temporary injunction to stop them picketing outside the clinic. But they do not believe that the suit has any real merit.
Incidentally, Since the lawsuit was filed, their pastor, Father Richard Bockskopf, has been more supportive than ever. Also, after being informed of the lawsuit, EVERYONE from the parish who usually comes to pray outside of the clinic on Friday mornings still showed up last Friday, with more resolve than ever. So if the intent was to intimidate, the effect has been exactly the reverse.
I would like to ask all of you to please pray for everyone involved. For my parents. For their pastor. For their parish. For the lawyers. And for Dr. Palmer and for all of the lives that he has impacted over the years.