Politics & Policy

79-Year-Old Woman Busted for Protesting at Planned Parenthood

Senior has been punched, arrested and railroaded: court issued injunction against her.

After 79-year-old Donna Holman protested outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, police arrested her and jailed her overnight for allegedly violating an injunction they say bars her from being near any Planned Parenthood personnel.

In a video taken of the March 11 events, Donna stands outside Planned Parenthood in Keokuk, Iowa, wearing a sandwich board that read “Babies are murdered here” while passing out pro-life pamphlets. Several police cars drive by and stop during her time there. Eventually, two police officers approach her with the disputed injunction, which Holman’s husband says does not bar her from demonstrating outside the facility. #ad#

“The injunction doesn’t specify the place or persons,” Dan Holman tells National Review. Instead, it limits Donna from being around “employees, patients, volunteers, [and] contractors [of Planned Parenthood], and those who accompany them.”

A police officer called the county attorney to verify if the injunction applied. Failing to receive a response, the officers left.

A few hours later, they received a call from the county attorney who interpreted the injunction to apply to the earlier events. Police officers in several cruisers then went to the Holman’s house to arrest Donna Homan. “She was in jail overnight. Lee County Jail,” Dan Holman says.

The original injunction — issued in 2006 in Johnson County, north of Keokuk — was more specific, Dan says, applying to only one specific Planned Parenthood office. He and Donna were notified by mail in 2011 that the junction had been reissued with broader language.

“If you’re going to apply that to all Planned Parenthoods we have to know if they mean everywhere in the world or just Iowa,” Dan says. “Also, how are we to know who is a contractor or volunteer and that type of thing? You can bump into them at a restaurant and be in violation of the injunction.”

Dan Holman also doubts that a county judge has jurisdiction to file an injunction for locations and persons in other counties.

The Keokuk Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Donna Holman was first issued the injunction after being accused of harassment while sidewalk counseling at a Planned Parenthood in Iowa City. “When the trial came up, the accuser didn’t show up and Donna was convicted on hearsay evidence,” Dan says. “She was convicted on what the client told others.”

Then in 2008, Donna was again charged with harassment, reportedly for saying “don’t kill your baby” loud enough that the workers inside the clinic could hear her. The judge in that case required Donna to take a psychiatric exam and refused to accept an exam administered by a doctor of Donna’s choosing, Dan Holman says. When Donna refused to have an exam administered by a state-chosen doctor, she was held in contempt of court and spent 30 days in jail.

In an incident in 2013, a man walking by Donna as she picketed a Planned Parenthood punched her in the shoulder before running away. When Dan caught up to the attacker, Man Chun John Ma, he admitted on tape that he had hit her.

“I did punch her . . . that was probably wrong,” Ma said, adding that Donna didn’t look 78 years old. Ma was arrested and charged with assault causing bodily injury.

“Donna’s been arrested about 14 times and I’ve been arrested somewhere between two and 300 times,” Dan Holman adds, saying that the two have protested outside of Planned Parenthoods across the state of Iowa for years. Dan now constantly records their activities in order to defend himself and his wife against accusations.

As for the latest charges, Dan doesn’t seem too worried. “I’m going to write a motion of dismissal,” Dan says, on the ground that the language of the current injunction is too broad, that a Johnson county judge does not have jurisdiction over Lee County, and that such an injunction is in violation of their constitutional rights.

“We’ve been through this a number of times,” he says, “so I can write as good a motion as everyone else.” The Holman’s have not yet been issued a court date.

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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