A travesty of justice has occurred in Oakland, California. But realities surrounding this local issue point to how the economic crisis in our nation is symptomatic of and flows from a deeper fundamental moral crisis.
A black pastor awaits sentencing, which could amount to two years in prison and $4,000 in fines, for standing outside an inner city abortion clinic holding a sign saying "Jesus Loves You & Your Baby, Let Us Help You," and offering pro-life literature.
Walter Hoye, founder and chairman of the Issues4Life Foundation, was found guilty of "unlawful approach" under the "Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Ordinance" enacted in Oakland in 2008.
Under the ordinance, it is prohibited, within 100 feet of the entrance to a "reproductive health facility," to approach within eight feet of a client "for the purpose of counseling, harassing, or interfering" with that person.
"Harassing" means holding up a sign, passing out literature or offering counseling.
The "reproductive health care facility" in question is Family Planning Specialists in Oakland. Looking over their Web site, it's clear that there is only one kind of reproductive health care they provide. Abortions.
According to testimony of the facility's executive director, they perform about one hundred abortions per week. Assuming an average of $600 per abortion (from the fee schedule on the website), that's about $3 million a year in revenue. Not bad for an inner city neighborhood business.
Pastor Hoye's conviction is strange in that no "victim" testified against him -- there was only testimony from those with an interest in the clinic -- employees and volunteers, no specific incident was cited, videotape showed Hoye standing peacefully holding his sign and materials, and the convicting jury was given no instructions regarding the definition of "approach."
Nevertheless, Hoye has been convicted and may wind up in jail and liable for thousands of dollars in fines.
But beyond the troubling details of this trial and conviction, circumstances surrounding the case convey the realities of our deeply confused and lost nation.
Abortion clinics such as Family Planning Specialists strategically locate to optimize their deadly business. This means in poor black neighborhoods.