• Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

Tennessee sidewalk counselor wins right to protection from pro-abortion harassment

ByJanice K. Merrill

Sep 21, 2022

A dedicated pro-life prayer warrior in Tennessee has been the target of blatant attacks by abortion facility escorts, but won a court victory protecting her from their relentless harassment.

Erika Schanzenbach, a pro-life lawyer and sidewalk counselor, prayed regularly at an abortion center in Bristol, Tennessee, with a small group.

After repeated verbal abuse from abortion center escorts, as well as stalking them, tearing up her pro-life materials and more, she finally filed a lawsuit for protective orders.

Thomas More Society lawyers represent Schanzenbach in his pursuit for protection.

The nonprofit legal association won a significant appeals victory last month when a Tennessee appeals court in a unanimous decision overturned a Tennessee trial court’s ruling that had denied Schanzenbach the protection to which it is entitled under the law.

The Court of Appeal found that the trial court failed to make sufficient findings of fact or sufficient legal conclusions to support its 2020 decision against Schanzenbach, Thomas More Society said in a statement. The Court of Appeal thus quashed the decisions of the court of first instance and sent them back for further proceedings before this court.

“This is a good interim victory for Ms. Schanzenbach, a true hero on the front lines of peacefully and prayerfully ending abortion in this country,” said Thomas More Society attorney Michael McHale.

“It’s rare for an appeals court to upset a lower court’s denial of a protective order,” McHale said, “but here the appeals court saw clearly that the trial court had to better analyze the facts and the law before we can deny protection to Ms. Schanzenbach Her case involves the most egregious harassment we have seen from a pro-lifer anywhere in the country.

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McHale is joined as counsel in the case by Thomas More Society lead attorney Martin Cannon, who is a national legal expert on pro-life sidewalk advocacy, as well as local attorney Andrew Fox.

McHale described the legal nature of the shameless offenses imposed on his pro-life client by abortion escorts.

Erika Schanzenbach

“Ms. Schanzenbach was terrorized as she exercised her freedom to peacefully express her opinion,” McHale said.

“She was harassed, threatened and frightened, as she attempted to share lifesaving alternatives with women wishing to have an abortion – which she is fully within her constitutional right to do,” he said. “The Court of Appeal has sent Ms Schanzenbach’s lawsuit back to the Chancellery to be properly settled. We expect him to do so, protecting her to the full extent of the law.

Tweet this: A pro-life lawyer terrorized by pro-abortion escorts for exercising her freedom to peacefully express her opinion has won a court victory

Sullivan County Chancery Court denied requested protection after a full-day trial in August 2020, despite unrebutted video evidence. The harassment included abortion escorts following Schanzenbach to his car, parked near a soccer field.

Schanzenbach was harassed, abused, and stalked by Denise Skeen, along with Skeen’s adult daughters Alethea and Rowan. Each is named as a defendant in motions for court orders of protection. Also named is Cheryl Hanzlik, who on several occasions pointed a megaphone sounding a loud police siren directly into Schazenbach’s face, risking permanent hearing damage.

The Thomas More Society appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, submitted eight factums (spread over four cases) and presented consolidated oral arguments, which resulted in four separate unanimous opinions and judgments – one for each of the four radical pro-abortion harassers from whom Schanzenbach seeks protection.

The Court of Appeals pointed to the Thomas More Society’s argument that the Michigan Court of Appeals recently upheld a protective order under identical Michigan law in a reverse scenario where a pro-life attorney was accused of harassing an abortion worker on public land near a facility. .

The Tennessee Court of Appeals acknowledged that in the Michigan case, the life attorney “no longer sought to share his political point of view” but “rather antagonized an individual” who “repeatedly repeated to respondent that he was scaring her and that he had to get away from her”. .” As a result, the behavior there had “changed from advocacy to threatening conduct” and “was not constitutionally protected.”

“The only difference between this case and Ms. Schanzenbach’s is that she is pro-life, and the harassment and abuse she suffered is much worse, as we pointed out in the Tennessee Court of Appeals “McHale said. “Obviously, no one should be treated less favorably by law simply because they hold pro-life views. referring the cases for further proceedings.

Tweet this: No one should be treated less favorably by the law simply because they hold pro-life views.

Erika Schanzenbach

The abortion facility in Bristol, Tennessee, where Schanzenbach was harassed again and again, has since closed as Tennessee law now bans most abortions following the Supreme Court’s decision to June 2022 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Schanzenbach continues to pray and advocate for the lives of unborn children and their mothers at the abortion business owner’s new facility, just a mile from Bristol, Va., where abortion is legal.

“When I go out to the clinic to minister, I pray while I’m there, but that’s not my main purpose going there,” Schanzenbach said. Pregnancy Help News. “My main purpose is to obey the commandments of God to ‘open your mouth for the dumb’ (Prov. 31:8-9) and to ‘save those who are led away to death’ (Prov. 24:10-12 ) .”

“So when I go there, my main goal is to speak out and plead for the lives of the little ones who have to die that day,” she said.

The Thomas More Company pledged in its filing to continue to ensure that Schanzenbach is protected by law against abusive behavior by respondents.

Video documentation of some of the harassment Schanzenbach suffered is publicly available online at (*Language warning):

https://youtu.be/ZdsJjgQeliI, https://youtu.be/3ITnPmTPzgQand https://youtu.be/dfUO46WFPfU.

Read the decisions of Judge John W. McClarty, Judge Thomas R. Frierson and Judge Kristi M. Davis below:

Erika Jean Schanzenbach vs. Denise Skeen


Erika Jean Schanzenbach vs. Althea Skeen


Erika Jean Schanzenbach vs. Rowan Skeen


Erika Jean Schanzenbach vs. Cheryl Hanzlik


Read more about the defense of Erika Schanzenbach by the Thomas More Society HERE.