SAN FRANCISCO (ChurchMilitant.com) - Criminal charges were dropped against an 86-year-old pro-life advocate for praying and fasting outside a San Francisco Planned Parenthood abortuary earlier this month.
Charges against Ron Konopaski for allegedly failing to comply with a shelter-in-place order have been dismissed," Life Legal Defense Foundation, who represented the pro-lifer in court, told Church Militant. The announcement was made April 28.
"We believe the criminal citation was an impermissible prohibition on free speech outside abortion facilities and a gross overreach of the city's authority," Life Legal said in a statement. "As long as Planned Parenthood is permitted to kill babies, pro-life advocates like Ron must be allowed to provide women with accurate information about abortion as well as resources to help women carry their babies to term."
Konopaski was the first person cited by San Francisco police for allegedly violating the public health order requiring residents to stay at home.
He was praying on April 2 outside the Planned Parenthood clinic at 1650 Valencia St. as part of a 40 Days for Life pro-life vigil when police cited him for the misdemeanor.
40 Days for Life defines its mission as one of prayer and fasting with peaceful vigils outside abortion centers. The group also connects expectant women to resources like the Gabriel Project and Alpha House, which can help them save their babies.
Konopanski has served as the local leader of the 40 Days for Prayer campaign for 11 years. After he retired from his dental practice, he helped organize the first campaign in the Bay area in 2009 at a former Planned Parenthood location on Eddy Street. He committed to always being present for the vigils so that no one would ever pray alone in front of the clinic.
He also serves as president of United for Life San Francisco and a member of Life Runner San Francisco.
Konopaski's attorney at Life Legal, Michael Millen, told Church Militant, "From what I can tell, this was a politically motivated citation by a disgruntled police officer who wanted to curry favor with Planned Parenthood."
"Charging Mr. Konopaski with a violation of San Francisco Administrative Code 7.17(b) was absurd because the charge involved proving that Mr. Konopaski was 'likely' to 'imperil the lives or property of inhabitants of this City and County,'" he added.
Millen said he was also pleased that "the DA saw the constitutional troubles with prosecuting a senior citizen for carrying a sign on the public sidewalk while allowing other citizens to freely walk and jog past the Valencia St. Planned Parenthood Clinic."
News of the dismissal lit up local and national pro-life social media. Pro-life groups reported being "thankful and grateful." "Thank God for the breakthroughs for all of us. We prayed for the [prosecution] to dismiss the citation and [allow us to] resume our pro-life public ministry," another said.
Enggrid Tjia, one of Konopaski's pro-life colleagues and leader of Life Runners San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, attributed the legal decision turning in Konopaski's favor to a number of factors, including:
On April 27, Church Militant reported on Konopaski's being charged with failing to comply with the shelter-in-place health order as well as being kicked and beaten by an anti-life passerby who had stolen his signage. The attacker can be seen on video repeatedly kicking Konopaski and commanding, "Stay on the ground, old man." The attacker was not sufficiently pursued, according to his pro-life colleagues.
Pro-lifers have their work cut out for them as a new "flagship" Planned Parenthood facility is scheduled for fall 2020.
The building, a former auto body shop located in the heart of San Francisco, cost $6 million to purchase and at least an additional $7.5 million in renovations to render it an abortuary. It will include space for "education," outreach to schools, policy advocacy, conference gatherings and a "research" lab.
Konopaski informed Church Militant that abortions are also performed in local hospitals including San Francisco General Hospital/Women's Options Center and the University of California San Francisco.
Konopaski and his pro-life allies work within California's 12th district represented by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat and perennial supporter of abortion and Planned Parenthood.
Pelosi, who claims to be Catholic, recently tried to bury taxpayer-funded abortion in the recent emergency coronavirus bill, "exploiting a global tragedy to help out her pals at Planned Parenthood," according to once source.
Pelosi blocked the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill that would stop infanticide — the killing of babies born alive following a botched abortion.
One Church Militant contact said, "I have been praying for [Pelosi] and others for their conversion and repentance. Lord have mercy on her."
Pro-lifers in San Francisco have attested to being targeted in person and online with increasing frequency and violence. A number requested that their names and photos not be used to protect them from persecution.