A pro-life woman who protests outside an abortion clinic in Bristol, Tenn., has faced harassment, stalking, and threats. Pro-abortion activists have bragged about their efforts to quash her free speech, physically blocking her sign with umbrellas, licking her arms, shouting obscenities at her, and pushing their bodies up against hers to prevent her message from reaching women as they go to the abortion clinic. The Thomas More Society has filed legal requests for a protection order to stop this harassment.
Erika Schanzenbach “has been terrorized while exercising her freedom to peacefully express her opinion,” Thomas More Society Counsel Michael McHale said in a statement. “She has been stalked, threatened, and frightened, while attempting to share life-affirming alternatives with abortion-minded women – something that she is fully within her Constitutional rights to do. We expect the court to protect Ms. Schanzenbach to the full extent of the law.”
When Schanzenbach protested at the abortion clinic, pro-abortion protesters mob her, even when she remains across the street from the clinic. McHale explained that “the offenders subject Schanzenbach to a variety of abuses, including surrounding her and blocking her from view with large, open umbrellas; licking her arms; following her very closely wherever she walks – even back to her vehicle hundreds of feet away from the abortion facility; stealing and destroying her leaflets; and hurling profanities, taunts, and obscene gestures directly in her face.”
“These actions are blatantly illegal, and they are unacceptable in a civilized society,” McHale added. “Everyone has the right to peacefully advocate their beliefs on public streets and sidewalks without being bullied into silence. While we continue to ask local authorities to stop this illegal abuse, we are eager to help Ms. Schanzenbach secure some measure of relief in civil court.”
The abortion activists, Denise Skeen and her two adult daughters, Alethea and Rowan, have organized as “Pro-Choice Bristol.” They posted a “Pink Manifesto” on Facebook, which states that they will “use any means necessary to physically block” pro-life speakers “from sight” and will do “anything at all not being enforced equally for the protection of patients whether demonstrably legal or not.” In addition to the Skeens, the protection order request names Cheryl Hanzlik, who has blasted police siren sounds through a bullhorn directly into Schazenbach’s face, allegedly aiming to cause permanent hearing damage.
The court held a hearing last month and will reconsider the cases in April. At that time, Schanzenbach’s legal team will present video evidence and live witness testimony about the harassment.
While the pro-abortion protesters also have free speech rights to counter Schanzenbach’s message, this physical harassment is entirely different.
Watch the videos of the harassment below.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.