In Everett, Washington, the Thomas More Society has secured a victory for pro-life advocate Ian Gallagher, after a district court judge dismissed an abortion promoter's claims against him as "not credible" on March 8, 2023. The Society arranged for a Washington state-based attorney to represent Gallagher, a pro-life sidewalk counselor, in Snohomish County District Court against Cynthia Tamlyn's disingenuous attempt to obtain an order of protection against him.
The intersection of 32nd and Hoyt in downtown Everett is a hotbed of controversy, with a Planned Parenthood abortion facility situated across from the nonprofit pregnancy resource center, Two Hearts Pregnancy Aid. Barricades are often set up by the police as abortion proponents and pro-life sidewalk counselors engage in heated exchanges.In January 2023, Tamlyn falsely accused Gallagher of harassment and sought a court order of protection against him. The court visited the Planned Parenthood site and reviewed video and audio recordings of the incident, ultimately dismissing Tamlyn's accusations.
Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Matt Heffron explained that if Tamlyn had successfully obtained a protection order against Gallagher, it would have likely prevented him from counseling outside the abortion clinic for an extended period. Heffron emphasized the importance of ensuring that peaceful sidewalk counselors are not intimidated into silence, particularly when faced with clear injustices.In May 2021, the Thomas More Society threatened a lawsuit against the City of Everett for attempting to enforce an unconstitutional police policy that would have forced pro-life sidewalk counselors off public property in front of the Planned Parenthood. After demonstrating the illegality of the situation, the city relented and avoided legal action.
The Society's legal work has enabled pro-life sidewalk counselors to return to the sidewalk in Everett. The city had previously banned everyone, including pro-life advocates, from the sidewalk in front of the Planned Parenthood after a single confrontation with pro-abortion protesters. The city and police then granted preferential treatment to pro-abortion agitators, allowing them to stand immediately across the street from the facility while pro-life advocates were relegated far away from the entrance.After pressure from the Thomas More Society, the city informed the national public interest law firm on May 19, 2021, that it was removing all restrictions.
The pro-life advocates represented by the Society participate in two national pro-life initiatives, Sidewalk Advocates for Life and 40 Days for Life, which are committed to peaceful outreach and ending abortion.Thomas More Society attorney Matt Heffron stressed that no one should be banished for offering aid and peaceful prayer. After providing a detailed analysis of the constitutional cases applicable to the situation in Everett, Heffron explained that the city ultimately did the right thing, although legal pressure was necessary at times.
The Thomas More Society will continue to monitor the situation and remains dedicated to defending the First Amendment rights of pro-life sidewalk counselors, ensuring that they can continue their peaceful advocacy without unconstitutional impediments.