March for Life 2024: Thomas More Society Legal Panel at Law of Life Summit

January 22, 2024
By
Joe Barnas

On Thursday, January 18—the eve of the national March for Life—Thomas More Society hosted a legal panel at the Law of Life Summit in Washington, D.C. The legal panel featured the Thomas More Society team for discussion and remarks on some of the most pressing pro-life legal battles, past and present. The panel was comprised of Andy Bath (EVP and General Counsel) as our presenter, Thomas Olp (EVP), Peter Breen (EVP and Head of Litigation), Michele Sterlace-Accorsi (Feminists Choosing Life of New York), Professor Teresa Collet (University of St. Thomas School of Law), and Martin Cannon (Senior Counsel).

Thank you to all those who were able to join us at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. For those unable to attend, here's a quick recap of our panel:

Tom Olp discussed our court challenge against Illinois Senate Bill 1564—an Illinois law that would mandate that pro-life pregnancy centers and doctors refer for abortion and speak about the so-called “benefits” of “abortion.” This case is in its seventh year, and we finally went on trial in September 2023. Tom also talked about our recent win for Jim Havens and ROC Love Will End Abortion in Rochester, New York. This Second Circuit Court of Appeals victory is a critical step in restoring the rights of sidewalk counselors in Rochester.

Peter Breen highlighted our total victory for NIFLA and Illinois pregnancy centers, against Illinois AG Kwame Raoul and Gov. JB Pritzker’s legal assault on pregnancy centers. Peter also explained how this win can be a blueprint for winning similar battles in states like Vermont, Connecticut, California, and others—states that are pushing or have already enacted similar laws to Illinois SB 1909, and otherwise attacking pregnancy centers.

Michele Sterlace-Accorsi, from Feminists Choosing Life of New York and a friend of Thomas More Society, joined to give a summary of New York’s radical Reproductive Health Act. New York's RHA upends two centuries of New York law to strip the unborn of any personhood rights.

Professor Teresa Collet, of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, joined the panel to give everyone a deeper dive into the legal theory underpinning our court challenge to New York's RHA. Prof. Collet began with a foray into the debate on personhood for the unborn, and what constitutional protections should be extended to the innocent human beings in the womb, and then tied that into our argument against the RHA's radical erasure of any legal protections whatsoever for those in the womb.

Martin Cannon closed out the panel with a riveting and expansive survey of the FACE Act and our own involvement defending against FACE Act prosecutions. Martin gave a list of compelling reasons for why we must keep fighting those charged under FACE and keep defending the targets overzealous prosecutions—overreach, abuses and overzealous prosecutions that ultimately effect the entire pro-life movement.

Andy Bath introducing the Thomas More Society panel
Martin Cannon
Peter Breen
Tom Olp