Skip to comments.Pro-life Women Jailed for Having Begged an Abortionist to Quit a Decade Ago...
Posted on 01/04/2008 4:33:56 PM PST by topher
Pro-life Women Jailed for Having Begged an Abortionist to Quit a Decade Ago
One faces five months in jail while another has been sentenced to serve eight months behind bars.
LINCOLN, Nebraska, January 4, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life activists Shari McKee and Melissa Abbink were jailed on December 28th, 2007, for speaking to Lincoln abortionist Winston Crabb on two occasions in front of his home 10 years ago. Abbink faces five months in jail while McKee has been sentenced to serve eight months behind bars.
According to Operation Rescue, in February, 1998, both were charged with violating the "focused picketing" ordinance even though neither had signs and both incidents lasted only a minute each. "Just long enough," said OR, "to plead for the lives of pre- born children as he walked from his car to his house."
After exhausting the appeals of the criminal cases, the convictions were upheld by the Nebraska Supreme Court on September 10, 1999. However, for reasons unknown, the mandate did not come down until September 28, 2005, over 6 years later.
The last two years have been spent seeking a commutation. The women's cases were brought before the Board of Pardons, which was very sympathetic, but refused to act because the Board does not review misdemeanor cases. The Board referred the cases to the Mayor of Lincoln, who has refused to act claiming he does not have the authority to grant commutations.
According to the women's attorneys, the Mayor clearly does have the authority to commute misdemeanor sentences.
"We are asking pro-lifers to write to Mayor Beutler and ask him to commute the sentences of these two women," said Larry Donlan, Director of Rescue the Heartland. "Be sure to point out that the Pardon Board says he has the authority to do so. Be polite and remember, it is a commutation that we are after, not a pardon. Like the parable of the widow, we are seeking justice for these two brave, God-fearing women. Only Mayor Beutler has that ability to grant that justice. He can do so by merely picking up the phone."
Mayor Chris Beutler 555 South 10th, 2nd Floor Rm 208, Lincoln, NE 68508 Fax: 402-441-7120 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The women in two separate facilities may be contacted by mail:
Melissa Abbink 4420 NW 41st Lincoln, NE 68524
Sharon McKee 1125 E. 17th St. Columbus, NE 68601
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I guess the First Amendment is not part of the Bill of Rights in Nebraska -- just the right to kill innocent babies...
Thinking about killing innocent babies, I think this turkey named Herod did that 2000 years ago trying to kill the baby the Three Wisemen had visited...
What an assinine law! “Focused picketing”? What the hell is “unfocused picketing”? Can a cross-eyed person be convicted of “focused picketing”? How a about a drunk who can’t see straight?
Mayor Chris Beutler
555 South 10th, 2nd Floor Rm 208
Lincoln, NE 68508
Were they subject to a restraining order?
There were, in the 1990s, people who followed abortionists around, and were arrested for that.
I guess if they were waiting for him to go to his car from his house, either they had been waiting a while or knew when he left for the abortion clinic.
It would seem malicious if they were waiting day and night for the abortionist -- so that is something that needs to be dug out of the conviction...
Yet the Phelps demons of the WBC are free to spew their bile to their heart’s content anyplace, anytime.
Man, talk about an example of the phrase “the law is an ass.”
Here’s the nub of the story:
“...to plead for the lives of pre- born children as he walked from his car to his house...”
I do not favor abortion, but I just imagined someone who describes herself as an activist talking to me as I walked from my car to my house. Then I imagined that activist talking to me as an opponent - let’s say telling me that the wolf ruff and the beaver gloves are a reflection of my Nazi predilictions, as PETA activists have done to others wearing fur. It would be a royal pain in the ass.
The space between the street and my front door is mine. I frankly don’t want anyone bothering me as I walk into my house on any subject.
These women are not charged with speaking to an abortionist. They’re charged with bothering him on his property while he’s walking into his house. I agree with their pro-life stance, but their actions seem to be a bigger problem than the message.
According to Operation Rescue, in February, 1998, both were charged with violating the "focused picketing" ordinance even though neither had signs and both incidents lasted only a minute each.
They violated a focused picketing ordinance, but they did not carry signs, they simply spoke to the abortionist, which I consider okay under the First Amendment...
There is no mention of a restraining order -- at least by Operation Rescue...
Maybe this should earn National Attention -- as the March for Life is a few weeks away...
It could be environmentalist or a PETA person or whomever...
Should they be thrown in jail? Would not the charge be more Violating the Peace than Focused Picketing?
Someone else has mentioned about Phelps nutjobs from Topeka and the funeral of service men. They cannot be arrested on local ordinances... Why are two women arrested for pleading for the lifes of babies???
If these women are in JAIL, then should be the entire PHELPS clan...
I find it hard to believe that these two women will serve time for such pretty offenses. They are not even a felony, and they are serving time in jail???
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but why shouldn’t these women be content to face the punishment meted out by the state? By doing so, they can demonstrate the injustice of the law that will throw somebody in jail for nothing more than speaking. If their sentences are commuted, they will not have an opportunity to make this point.
History is filled with examples of activists who have inspired the masses by being subjected to unjust inprisonment, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to name only a few.
I’m no professor of Constitutional law but doesn’t an ordinance which creates a prior restraint on speech violate the First Amendment?
Crabb's son, who was outside on his front step as Abbink and McKee approached, went inside the house and called the Lincoln Police Department. Crabb was upstairs in his house when Abbink and McKee approached. When Crabb first noticed Abbink and McKee, they were standing on the sidewalk, one on either side of the end of his driveway, approximately 1 to 11/2 feet from his property line. In an attempt to avoid the disruption caused by Abbink and McKee, Crabb left his house, got into his car, and drove away. Realizing that Abbink and McKee had decided to follow him, Crabb returned to his house. Abbink and McKee followed Crabb back to his residence and parked their car on the street adjacent to Crabb's property. After getting out of their car, Abbink and McKee once again flanked Crabb's driveway and continued to shout at Crabb.
After Crabb returned to his house, he telephoned the Lincoln Police Department. While Crabb and his son were waiting for the police to respond to their calls, Abbink and McKee were standing on the sidewalk between the Crabb property line and the street adjacent thereto. Abbink and McKee again stood approximately 1 to 1 1/2 feet from the Crabb property line, where they remained until the police arrived on the scene.
The police arrived at approximately 7:30 a.m. and observed Abbink and McKee still standing on the sidewalk flanking Crabb's driveway. After the police arrived, Crabb came out to the sidewalk near the area where Abbink and McKee were standing as Abbink and McKee continued to shout at him. The police separated the parties, after which Abbink and McKee were issued citations for disturbing the peace in violation of Lincoln Mun. Code Â§ 9.20.050 (1992); the complaints against Abbink and McKee were subsequently amended to include charges of focused residential picketing in violation of Lincoln Mun. Code Â§ 9.40.090 (1997). Specifically, count II of the amended complaints alleged that Abbink and McKee 'intentionally or knowingly engage[d] in focused picketing in that portion of a street which abuts on the property upon which the targeted dwelling is located, or which abuts on property within fifty feet of the property upon which the targeted dwelling is located, in violation of L.M.C. section 9.40.090.'
After arraignment, Abbink and McKee entered pleas of not guilty, and the cases were consolidated for trial. Following a joint bench trial, both Abbink and McKee were acquitted on the respective counts of disturbing the peace, but were convicted of focused residential picketing, and each of them was sentenced to a jail term of 60 days. Abbink and McKee appealed to the district court for Lancaster County, which affirmed both convictions and both sentences. From that order, Abbink and McKee timely appealed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, and we moved these cases to our docket pursuant to our authority to regulate the caseloads of the appellate courts of this state. Neb. Rev. Stat. Â§ 24-1106(3) (Reissue 1995). Abbink's and McKee's appeals have been consolidated for oral argument and decision in this court.
So, we're talking about more than a minute - a half hour of harassment and following people around, and continuing when the officers arrived. What I'm curious about is how it went from sixty days to the stated six and eight months. Something further is at play here, and as the originating story appears to be short on maintaining any facts in the case, I don't feel inclined to disturb a mayor.
However, there was one SCOTUS Justice that did not agree with the majority...
Here is a PDF about Paul Schenck:
To me, that occasion was about Freedom of Speech, and not blocking the entrance of an abortion clinic, but it had to go to the US Supreme Court to get thrown out...
Thanks for posting.
“I don’t feel inclined to disturb a mayor.”
After reading this, neither do I. Free speech is one thing, harassment and abuse is something else.
They may distort facts...
Maybe the jail time is deserved -- if they were indeed stalking -- and there were convictions handed down in the 1990s about stalking abortionists...
I am unfamiliar with the FACTS of the case...
It clearly may be more than a 1st Amendment case -- but rather a case of stalking...
This isn't prior restraint, since the women were not prevented from speaking, but were punished for having spoken. In the more classic sense of the term, a newspaper can't be prevented from printing a libel, but can be sued after the fact. As a free speech case, this has mostly to do with what is and isn't considered a public forum under the law, and there's a whole body of cases that speak to that.
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