Wrongfully Arrested, Abused, Strip-Searched Pro-Lifers File Lawsuits

Washington, D.C. (5 September 2008) –  Lawyers working with the Alliance Defense Fund, on behalf of three pro-life women, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Harford County, Maryland; the town of Bel Air, Maryland; and seven Maryland state police officers. These young women were humiliated and falsely arrested for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.

The women were part of Defend Life's "Face the Truth" tour.

"Thank God, these pro-lifers are standing up for themselves and all advocates for the preborn who are intimidated by police abuse," said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. "Our constitutional rights will not be stomped on by abortion activists whether they're in the police force, the local Planned Parenthood, or the halls of our government buildings."

The women were arrested August 1 when they and 15 other "Face the Truth" members made one final stop in Hagerstown, Maryland. There, they set up their signs along a stretch of public highway and began to pray. State police officers soon demanded they take down their signs. The pro-lifers complied and moved to a location in Bel Air, Maryland.
State police followed and began making arrests.
The pro-lifers were arrested without knowing the charges. Many were not read their Miranda rights and many were denied access to their lawyers. Police officers subjected the girls to repeated, semi-public, invasive searches.
"They violated all of our rights," Jack Ames, president and founder of Defend Life told American Life League. Ames was arrested and spent the night in a cell with the other pro-lifers. The group passed the night praying and singing the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria, and Tantum Ergo. The next morning officials released the pro-lifers and dropped the charges.
"This incident paints an ugly picture of the state of religious freedom and free speech in America today," Alliance Defense Fund Chief Counsel Kevin Theriot told LifeSiteNews.
Judie Brown agreed and challenged pro-lifers subjected to abusive police force to come forward.
"We hope the thousands of pro-life Americans who are forced to deal with law enforcement bullying and abuse take their cue from these women," she said. "This is another example of erosion of an important right, the right to freedom of speech. It is no accident that denial of the most basic right, the right to life, is leading to the erosion of all our rights."
American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to death. For more information or media inquiries, please contact Katie Walker at 540.659.4942