What Perez and Planned Parenthood Have in Common
Today, the 12 Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee endorsed Thomas Perez, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Labor.
Heritage Action’s Josh Robbins has explained why this was a terrible idea and why the Senate should absolutely not confirm Mr. Perez:
Perez initiated a baseless prosecution under the Free Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act against a woman who offered sidewalk counseling in front of an abortion clinic. The FACE Act has an explicit exemption for “expressive conduct,” and as Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky wrote, “The judge in the Florida case noted the shocking absence of any evidentiary grounds for the prosecution, or even the applicability of the FACE Act, exposing the bald partisanship of this Justice Department.” Are these types of frivolous prosecutions going to help the American work force?
Perez sued a pro-life sidewalk counselor in Florida for $10,000, claiming that she “obstructed” a car from entering an abortion clinic and that she posed an “immediate threat.”
To be clear, FACE permits sidewalk counselors to walk beside patients, coming or going, on a public sidewalk. The federal judge who heard the case severely reprimanded Perez for frivolously filing the suit with no valid evidence and no corroborating witnesses to the alleged infraction. It is clear that Perez was targeting this pro-life counselor for political reasons, not based on the evidence. Moreover, the First Amendment protects their right to speak to women entering an abortion clinic to tell them about better alternatives, but Perez doesn’t care about that.
The Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky has detailed a similar instance in which Perez prosecuted a sidewalk counselor for “physical obstruction,” with complete disregard for that counselor’s freedom of speech as well:
Richard Retta walks alongside women on the sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility and offers women hope that they can carry their babies to term.
After a decade of sidewalk counseling, Mr. Retta, a 79-year-old grandfather, had never been prosecuted. In fact, over that time, he also taught others how to do sidewalk counseling. In training manual that he wrote, he stated: “DO NOT block the woman’s path.”
But none of this mattered to Perez. Heritage’s von Spakovsky explains:
Retta estimates that he and other volunteers have helped more than 1,300 women change their minds about abortion. But that kind of success seems to be too much for this administration. It is so committed to the agenda of abortion groups that it threatened to shut down the entire government during the budget debate earlier this year to preserve more than $300 million in federal funds for Planned Parenthood. It also has threatened to cut off Medicaid funds to states like Indiana that ban state grants to the organization.
You see, Perez is a radical liberal. His contempt for pro-life organizations and individuals is matched only by his admiration for organizations like Planned Parenthood, which takes the lives of roughly, 3,500 babies each day – and that is a low-end estimate.
In his capacity as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at Eric Holder’s US Department of Justice, Perez authored the document, “Protecting the Rights of Women and Girls.” It has a lot nice-sounding assertions:
Human trafficking — the equivalent of modern day slavery — is an affront to human dignity, and goes against everything our country stands for.
But the document made no mention of Planned Parenthood and the occasions on which Planned Parenthood helped to conceal sex trafficking and aid sex traffickers.
Planned Parenthood has arranged for abortions for sex traffickers who bring in their trafficked underage girls for abortions. There are also videos of Planned Parenthood workers telling “sex traffickers to have their trafficked underage girls lie about their age to avoid mandatory reporting laws.”
But of course, making mention of the aid Planned Parenthood gave to sex traffickers wouldn’t really be helpful for their abortion agenda. Or maybe it is just that they’re too busy prosecuting innocent sidewalk counselors who donate their time to giving pregnant women hope for themselves and their babies.