Pro-life activists to challenge new fence around Washington, DC, Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood at 1108 16th Street NW in Washington, DC is the abortion mecca-mill where pro-lifers by the hundreds pray and protest during the annual March for Life every January, for instance in 2009...

... and also at other times throughout the year, as this video taken in October 2009 shows, when Christendom College's (Front Royal, VA) Shield of Roses pro-life group organized "Mega Shield 2009" in front of the mill. Over 200 people took part, "its biggest protest in over 30 years of existence"...

But here's how the front of that PP looks today, 3 weeks after it suddenly posted a fence, gate, and "Private Property: No Trespassing" sign (click to enlarge)...

planned parenthood dc 1.jpg

planned parenthood dc 2.jpg

Now Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition will challenge what appears to be PP's flagrant attempt to deny the bothersome 1st Amendment rights of pro-lifers.

pat mahoney.jpgMahoney (pictured left) has applied for a permit to protest to hold a prayer vigil on the public sidewalk leading to the entrance of that PP on June 8 at 11a.

"We've researched, and there has been no changeover of the land," Mahoney told me by phone. "It appears PP was tired of pro-lifers giving out literature and praying and unilaterally decided to erect a fence."

Since the fence went up PP has called DC police to have sidewalk counselors arrested. "There's real confusion on the part of the police department," said Mahoney. "We're hoping our permit application will force the police department and legal counsel to conduct proper research."

Whether Mahoney receives his permit or is turned down, he plans to pray on the sidewalk in front of the mill on June 8. "And then we would fight the fence in 2 ways, via the court system if we are falsely arrested and by seeking injunctive relief.

Mahoney has quite a history with this particular PP and trespassing wars dating back to the 1980s.

planned parenthood dc protest 1.jpg"For years PP said the sidewalk leading up to PP about 45 feet and grassy area on either side was private, so we abided," said Mahoney.

Then in the 1990s when Mahoney's group was convicted of a FACE violation they discovered the property wasn't private after all during litigation.

"So for the past 10 or 15 years hundreds and thousands of people have prayed and protested in the very area PP now claims is not public but private," said Mahoney.

The activists are being represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, Jay Sekulow's group.

No worries, I'll be following this story.


The gates of hell shall not prevail...nor shall their fences.

Posted by: ninek at May 28, 2010 6:24 PM

I hate to be siding with the baby-killers, but if it is their property, then they can put up whatever fences they like. The sidewalk is another matter, obvs, but the actual property isn't.

Posted by: Keli Hu at May 28, 2010 6:33 PM

I think the whole point is that it *isn't* their property, unless they just purchased it or something.

Posted by: Lauren at May 28, 2010 6:39 PM

I understand you pro-lifers are motivated by your religious beliefs and to you all, an embryo is a human being. But for most Americans, and embryo is not a human being with the rights of a woman who most certainly is a human being. I feel as a woman it is my right, and my right only to decide when and if I procreate. If I were to become pregnant and did not want to have a baby, I think it would be down right tyrranical for me to have to have a baby to satidfy some small fundamentalist religious group's sense of right and wrong, a religious groupd that I don't even belong to. Countries that take away women's rights are oppressive third world police states, not liberal first world democracies. I feel like you all want us to march towards facism. My body, my choice. How could the right think government doesn't belong regulating big business, but belongs regulating my vagina? I'm sorry it doesn't make any sense. Also if you make abortion illegal, you are going to force women into back ally abortions, that can put the mother's life in jeapordy. You all do not belong in America, you belong in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they are the Theocracy, we are a Democracy.

Posted by: Rebecca Riley at May 28, 2010 7:03 PM

"How could the right think government doesn't belong regulating big business, but belongs regulating my vagina?"

If take care to regulate your own vagina, you will have little to worry about. Thanks.

Posted by: Praxedes at May 28, 2010 7:13 PM

"I understand you pro-lifers are motivated by your religious beliefs and to you all, an embryo is a human being. But for most Americans, and embryo is not a human being with the rights of a woman who most certainly is a human being."

Actually, my motivations for protecting life are secular in nature.

It is not simply a belief t hat an embryo is a human being. It is a scientific fact. A new, unique human being is formed at amphimixis. There is absolutely no debate to this point.

If most Americans believe that an embryo is not a human being, then most Americans are ignorant to basic biology.

Abortion is no more religious an issue than is murder of post-born humans. You will find that if you move beyond bumper sticker slogans, there is a very rational, logical reason to oppose the killing of our youngest members of society.

I hope you stick around to have a debate.

Posted by: Lauren at May 28, 2010 7:18 PM


I agree with you- you should have a choice to reproduce or not. I disagree that you should be allowed to eliminate a living human being once reproduction (ie amphimixis of your offspring) has occurred.

I too hope you're not a "drop my rusty old unoriginal arguments and run" troll.

Stick around a bit and dialogue with us. You may be surprized to find that we believe your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is far more valuable than even you believe it is.

Posted by: Michelle at May 28, 2010 8:27 PM

Sorry about the double post, guys. I have been having technical difficulties posting on here lately. I hope it doesn't mean that the Australian Rudd Government is planning to block us from access to this site too.

Posted by: Michelle at May 28, 2010 8:33 PM

Rebecca Riley...

You seem to be a bit uneducated about some things.

First, we are not a democracy. We are a Republic. There is a difference.

Second, it is basic biological fact that human life begins at conception. Now if you want to argue "personhood" thats another thing, but a new, unique, never before existed human life is present once the sperm penetrates the egg. The new sequence of DNA found in this tiny human has never before existed on the face of the earth and barring identical twins, will never exist again. That is biological fact not our opinion. Any biologist or MD could explain it to you.

Religion doesn't tell me when human life begins, science does.

Posted by: Sydney M. at May 28, 2010 9:43 PM

We all were a fetus at one time and a person non the less, easy to say different when you had the perhaps undeserving right to be here...ignorance IS NOT bliss....

Posted by: angel at May 28, 2010 9:59 PM

In 2005 PP of DC erected a chain-link fence seen here:

Police arrived that morning regarding the construction of that fence. Days later it was gone.

Posted by: Cranky Catholic at May 28, 2010 10:12 PM

don't know who's posting using my moniker... :(

anyway I just wanted to day that American's have no idea just how lucky you are to have your 1st amendment.... NO. IDEA.

Posted by: angel at May 28, 2010 10:39 PM

"embryo is not a human being"

prove this statement.

I think most American's who believe this would have trouble proving it so....

Posted by: angel at May 28, 2010 11:12 PM

Excuse me! I know I'm very small and everything, but I'm only inside my mother's body for a short time. I'm not my mother. I choose to be body my choice right? right?

Posted by: I.M.A.Fetus at May 28, 2010 11:42 PM

As a mother, I knew from the very beginning that my child was a seperate human being with a seperate body, DNA, heart, organs and everything from me. That my womb was a place for that child to develop and grow and the womb was supposed to be one of the safest places for my child to be.

Just because a child is in the womb doesn't change the fact that said child has his or her own body sepearate from the mother.

The whole "my body, my choice" is terribly selfish. A good chunk of us all have to battle our own selfishness without THAT "motto".

Shoot, many animal babies (even the pre-born ones) have more protective laws for them than human babies do.

Posted by: Mother In Texas at May 29, 2010 12:34 AM

Personhood Now!!

Vote yes on 62 for Colorado's pre-born!

Posted by: Leslie Hanks at May 29, 2010 1:03 AM

"I understand you pro-lifers are motivated by your religious beliefs"

No, you clearly don't. If you think that the pro-life movement consists of "some small fundamentalist religious group", you're woefully misinformed. Don't bother arguing until you have some idea what you're talking about.

Just to start with...

Regarding this fence, if they don't own the property, it's illegal for them to put a fence there, period. If they do own the property and complied with all local ordinances, there's probably not much anyone can do about it.

Posted by: Marauder at May 29, 2010 7:26 AM

Jill I'm sure your readers want to know that just because there wasn't a fence there before doesn't mean it wasn't Planned Parenthood's private property: it just means there wasn't a fence there. In the past they just did not have call the police for every protestors that stood on their property, although they certainly had the legal right to tell them to get off their land. The fence just makes it easier to enforce the legal boundaries of their property.

I'm also sure you'll be grateful to know that Planned Parenthood spent a lot of time getting the correct city permits to erect the fence. This was a long project, they didn't just decide to "throw up a fence" overnight.

Posted by: NewsCat at May 29, 2010 8:51 AM

Silly angel, don’t you know that a statement like an “embryo is not a human being” is a statement of religious belief.

It’s not a scientific fact thus it requires no “proof”.

Those darn theocrats! So bothersome...messin' with our laws. ;)

Posted by: Tommy R at May 29, 2010 10:50 AM

It is public property, per plat maps.

Posted by: Janet Baker at May 29, 2010 3:48 PM

If I become pregnant and I don't wish to carry the fetus to term, it's none of your business. Would you forcibly hold me down while I try access what SCOTUS says is my right? Here's the thing, lifers - a fetus in my body has the same rights as a gallstone. Get it? Got it? Get your hands off of my body. Recently, one of your commenters said that those who murdered abortion doctors were heroes. Rest assured that the screen prints have made the requisite rounds. So please don't preach to me about what I can do with my beautiful vagina and uterus (from which I derive actual unmarried pleasure - ewww!!!). According to the logic of this commenter, "killing" an abortion provider is fine. So if I want to kill what is in my body be it a tumor, an appendix, or a fetus that's my thing. Besides, killing an abortion provider is a criminal offense despite what your anti choice zealot says. What I do with my body isn't. Get it?

And if "Science" says that human life begins at conception, why isn't American "science" lobbying for the criminalization of abortion? Huh?

Posted by: Oculus at May 29, 2010 5:25 PM

Agree with Janet Baker.

The D.C. Online Zoning Map places the District boundary right up to PP's front door.

Strangely, the corner lot next to PP also has a similar fence, and it's been erected for years.

Posted by: Cranky Catholic at May 29, 2010 7:48 PM


A baby in the womb is a completely seperate entity in terms of the fact that a baby has his or her own head, body, heartbeat, DNA, cells, you name it.

For developmental reasons a baby is in the womb of his or her mother for the many months so that he or she can survive outside the womb. That's what pregnancy is...a developing baby (basic biology: sperm joining with egg equals baby).

I don't know of any of us who would "hold you down" as you put it.

I never applauded killing an abortionist. I don't believe that's the right course of action.

However, I believe kind, compassionate words, prayers and education is the way for us pro-lifers to get the message out that abortion is killing another human being.

When a baby is conceived it's not just about the woman's body anymore because there's the baby's body to's a human life. Not a "gall stone" as you put it.

As a mother, I know this from experience.

Posted by: Mother In Texas at May 30, 2010 1:21 AM

Back in 2004 or 2005 I was nearly arrested at that site for allegedly trespassing on their private property. Though we lost the lawsuit, the courts agreed with us that the sidewalk and grassy area around PP was not private property. It is all public property in that section of the city. PP has contempt for morality and contempt for the law. No surprise.

Posted by: Daniel at May 30, 2010 8:55 AM

You can see more pictures of the fence here:

Posted by: Niall O'Donnell at June 1, 2010 8:19 AM

"basic biology: sperm joining with egg equals baby"

Guess you never heard of identical twins. So do we need to change this to "sperm joining with egg equals baby, or maybe two, or maybe none because it may never be implanted?"

If pro-lifers were not so dishonest, they might make batter progress. A zygote is not a baby. Either that or a farmer would have a perfect right to sell his fertilized eggs as chickens.


Posted by: regi_f at June 1, 2010 12:03 PM

Found this article on a bing search. (I really should use bing more often. It really does search better than google but that may be in part to my ignorance of search engine characters)

I haven't seen it mentioned here so I thought I would add my understanding of the situation. The grassy area is considered real property to PP by annexation through the fence. The sidewalk falls under easement but for the purpose of the annexation it's included.

Basicly, PP owns the building and the city owns the land from the street to the building. PP is leasing this land from the city. The city could at any time cancel the lease if, for example, they wanted to widen the road or sidewalk.

So while it is public property (in that the city owns it), it isn't open to the public right of way.

By erecting the fence, PP is signaling a desire to make this leased area closed to the general public but open to those who have business with the clinic. This is similar to the school (daycare?) next door with a fence around their property.

Not being a DC property lawyer, the above is only my opinion on the situation based on limited classroom experience.

This post is long enough so I won't inject my own opinion on the debate.

Posted by: Dave at June 3, 2010 4:52 PM

So you say PP is leasing its "front lawn" from Washington, DC?
Sounds like a strange deal.

Posted by: Janet at June 3, 2010 5:06 PM

Well not just PP, all the buildings along 16th street without improvements built on the front plot are leasing the land in similar manners according to the zoning map I've seen.

PP's is a front lawn, the school is an outdoor playground (apparently, judging by the outdoor recess they have), other buildings use their plots in different manners.

As an aspiring law student, this whole matter is intriguing so I'll be awaiting the DCPD's legal findings on the issue.

Posted by: Dave at June 3, 2010 5:17 PM

I noticed someone commented about personhood. I am curious as to the point of this push. Even if the embryo (embryo not fetus) is defined as a person by law it still isn't a person philosophically. You can call it that, I suppose, but than what's the point of the word anymore. We would then have to make a new word to take the place of what person is defined to apply to and then that would be the term to distinguish entities.

Perhaps I am thinking too much into it and advocates are simply wishing to attach the legal concept of person to the embryo.

Posted by: Dave at June 4, 2010 2:21 PM

Post a comment:

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Please enter the letter "i" in the field below: