VIRGINIA BEACH - A pro-life group in North Carolina is suing the city of Greensboro and the county government after some of its members were arrested for violating a stay-at-home order when they protested outside an abortion clinic twice, even though they followed social distancing guidelines.
It's the latest example of how police in some states are arresting and ticketing pro-life charity workers. It's all about who is - and who isn't - considered essential.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most states across the country say abortion clinics and facilities like Planned Parenthood here in Virginia Beach are considered essential services. But what about those who are here to minister to people on the sidewalk outside these clinics? They provide valuable services to women in a time of need.
A Virginia Beach police officer recently issued pro-life worker Cheri Britt a court summons for violating Gov. Ralph Northam's stay at home order.
Britt told CBN News, "It was just me with the ministry on the sidewalk and he said, 'You'll have to leave or I'll give you a summons.' And I said, 'I don't understand why I am going to get a summons, because you know, we are providing essential services."
Britt's Hope for Life ministry has operated a mobile bus clinic for five years, offering free pregnancy tests and free ultrasounds for women as an alternative to abortion services offered at the Planned Parenthood clinic next door.
Cheri Britt directs the Hope for Life ministry to women.
The ministry also provides essential items like free food and clothing and diaper wipes to expectant mothers in need.
Misty, a licensed ultrasound technician, said, "The opinion right now from our governor is that Planned Parenthood is essential. If Planned Parenthood is essential, there is no question that Hope for Life is essential. These women are struggling, especially in this time right now. I went for my little one, couldn't even find wipes, zero wipes. We have wipes to give out to women."
Britt isn't alone in her run-in with the law. The day before Palm Sunday, Christian entrepreneur, former professional baseball player David Benham and his 20-year-old son were arrested outside the Preferred Women's abortion clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The co-host of the former HGTV reality show "Flip It Forward" says they were providing essential charitable work outside the clinic. Benham and his son were arrested despite practicing social distancing, keeping six feet away from people outside the clinic.
Britt says Planned Parenthood officials often ask police to remove members of her ministry from the sidewalk in front of the building.
"They like to consider us as protestors, but we're not protestors. We are not out here against women, we are out here to serve women and to help women," Britt explained. "And last week, we worked hard with clothes and gave out 500 diapers and free baby hygiene and food. We're making deliveries for women who don't have vehicles and can't get out."
And Hope for Life's free ultrasounds are making a difference. They say 600 babies have been saved from abortion in the past five years.
"We're not just telling a mom keep your baby it's truth, it's truth. We are here to help them in the ways we are able," Misty said. "We are not able to take away everything from their struggles, but the parts that we can, and one being baby items. These people need help. Who is gonna do it? If we don't, who will?"
CBN News called the Virginia Beach Police Department asking for a response and received no return phone call. Also, we later learned that the woman who allowed us to videotape her ultrasound procedure is pregnant with twins. She's decided to keep her babies.