Third Victory for Thomas More Society around George Tiller’s former clinic, now run by abortionist Julie Burkhart
Up until recently, our clients, members of the Kansas Coalition for Life, had logged about 35,000 hours (about 10 years at 8 hours a day) on the sidewalk at Burkhart’s abortion mill without incident. They are peaceful people. They arrive in the morning, place signs into the ground, attend them without fail during the day, and take them with them when they leave.
But pro-lifers on the sidewalk are effective at convincing mothers not to kill their children, and this costs abortionists a lot of money.
In 2013, Burkhart obtained an ex parte protection order against pro-life minister Mark Holick. (An ex parte order is a preliminary order granted on her own allegations only, with no opportunity for the judge to hear the other side.) The order was based on allegations by Burkhart that were not just arguably false, but were utterly and demonstrably false. He fought the order for two years, incurred enormous legal expenses, suffered the shame of being called a stalker in the local and national news (to the chagrin of his teenage children), lost his ministry, had difficulty getting hired, and even had to move from his home town of Wichita to Oklahoma. And when it finally came time to prove her allegations, Burkhart confronted reality and dismissed her case.
But last spring, Burkhart unleashed several attacks on the pro-life stalwarts:
- She collaborated with the City of Wichita to shut down the pro-life messages outside her mill. City officials and police arrived and, over the objections of the pro-lifers on the scene, pulled the signs out of the ground, hauled them away, and charged KCFL member Mark Gietzen with a crime for doing what he and the entire coalition had been peacefully doing for over ten years.
- Burkhart’s security guard Carl Swinney brutally attacked and injured pro-life advocate Jennifer McCoy in front of her terrified children.
- Undoubtedly emboldened by the city’s act of confiscating signs, chief abortion mill security guard John Rayburn walked right up to David’s sign and began taking it. David, who is mostly blind, tried defending his sign by swinging at Rayburn with the sign in his hands. Rayburn got away with his sign anyway, and David got charged with assault.
But the Thomas More Society got involved, and things began changing for the better. Here’s what has happened:
- Thomas More Society attorney Martin Cannon advised Jennifer McCoy on communicating with the prosecutor, seeing to it that criminal charges would be vigorously pursued against Carl Swinney, and advised her during the process. Swinney has now been convicted of attacking Mrs. McCoy.
- Thomas More Society attorney Martin Cannon traveled to Wichita and defended Mark Gietzen on the criminal charges over the confiscated signs. After a trial, the judge found Mr. Gietzen Not Guilty, and ordered the signs returned to our clients by the City of Wichita.
- Pastor Holick filed suit in Federal Court against abortionist Burkhart to recover his losses from her baseless protection order. Thomas More Society attorney Martin Cannon joined Kansas attorney Don McKinney as counsel for Mark Holick. Lawyers representing abortionist Burkhart filed a motion to dismiss the case on several different theories and were putting everything they had into it. Opposition to the motion was going to be difficult. But our attorneys worked many long nights, filed a lengthy brief in opposition, and beat the abortionist’s attorneys on every count. The case is now on its way to a trial before a federal jury. We have a good chance to win this case. If we do, it will send a message to every abortionist in the country that the days of obtaining fraudulent protection orders against innocent and peaceful pro-lifers are over.
- Thomas More Society attorney Martin Cannon traveled to Wichita and defended KCFL member David Schmidt against the assault charge filed after his effort to keep the abortionist’s guard from stealing his sign. The judge initially ruled against David, but our attorneys filed a request to have the case tried again, this time by a jury. That trial is now set for May 1, 2017, only a few weeks away, and we are confident in victory.