A pastor in California may end up in jail and be asked to pay a hefty fine for offering prayers for pregnant women entering abortion clinics, hoping to change their minds about killing their own babies.
Father James Linton, an Anglican pastor, was formally charged last Friday by the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office with alleged "interference with a business," Tru News reported.
Linton was taken into police custody last month while standing on a public easement outside a Planned Parenthood facility in San Bernardino, praying and offering incoming mothers and fathers alternatives to abortion.
The Christian pastor has been staying every Friday outside the abortion clinic for a year now, in an attempt to save babies at risk of abortion. In fact, Planned Parenthood already built a wall near its San Bernardino facility in an attempt to hinder sidewalk counselors and prevent them from speaking to mothers and fathers in the parking lot.
Allison Aranda, senior staff counsel for the Life Legal Defense Foundation and a former prosecutor for Riverside County currently helping Linton, described the pastor's arrest as "outrageous," and questioned the basis of the charge against him.
"Fr. Linton certainly did not intend to interfere with Planned Parenthood's ability to conduct its business. Rather, he simply offered assistance and alternatives to its patrons that could save the lives of their precious babies," Aranda told Tru News.
She further asserted that Father Linton did not violate any law by praying and speaking out outside the abortion clinic, since he was only exercising his right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Constitution, on the public sidewalk and rights of way in their community.
"In fact, the code section under which Fr. Linton was charged, specifically exempts from criminal liability, those who are engaging in activities that are protected by the California and United States Constitution," Aranda noted.
Aranda's group pledged to help Linton with the legal troubles he is facing, and to also defend other sidewalk counsellors.