North Carolina City’s Police Misinterpret Emergency Proclamation to Arrest Pro-Lifers

On March 28 and 30, a small group of pro-lifers in Greensboro, North Carolina, from the group Love Life gathered to pray outside of an abortion clinic on public property and on a neighboring private property with the permission of the owner. Making sure they were in compliance with a coronavirus emergency order from Guilford County the pro-lifers did the following:

  • Gathered in a group of less than 10 individuals both days.
  • Remained six feet apart from each other.
  • Carried hand sanitizer with them.

The emergency “stay-at-home” order allows for a wide range of exceptions to what it deems “essential activities.” Among those exceptions are “walking, hiking, golfing, running, cycling, or using the greenways … go[ing] to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas.” Despite Love Life’s carefulness to abide by the order, police officers gave them citations and arrested them.  The police and the city attorney who backed the arrests made the following claims against them:

  • They participated in non-essential travel.
  • They traveled by car and not on foot.
  • They came in the county from outside the county.
  • Only people in the county can participate in outdoor activities in the county.

The city attorney also went further to add that the emergency order allows authorities, at their discretion, “to suspend First Amendment activities for the duration of the emergency.” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who is representing Love Life, has discovered that all the above claims made by the police and city attorney are bogus and not even hinted at within the emergency order.Greensboro skyline

Denise Harle, ADF Senior Counsel, has stated, “This wasn’t about public health and safety; it was about the government silencing people because it doesn’t like what they have to say. … if abortion clinics can stay open during the pandemic, Christians should be allowed to pray outside—particularly those abiding by health and safety guidelines…”

Harle’s colleague, Kevin Theriot, also ADF Senior Counsel, added,”Did the city really have no choice but to arrest these pastors and other Christians under the circumstances—and possibly punish them with up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine? Of course not, especially when the same government is allowing other people to walk, bike, golf, and picnic.” ADF has sent a letter to Guilford County officials explaining the constitutional rights of those arrested and their objections to how police handled the situation. They have made it clear that if things are not corrected for the pro-lifers, litigation will be brought against the county. Four of the arrested pro-lifers have already filed suit using the Thomas More Society as legal representation.


Denise Harle, Arrest of Pro-Life Advocates Reveals Glaring Double Standard in Government Response to COVID-19,, April 3, 2020.

ADF attorneys representing arrested pro-life advocates tell NC city it has gone too far,, April 3, 2020.

Guilford County COVID-19 Stay At Home Amended Order, March 30, 2020.

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