Elderly Pro-Life Sidewalk Counselor Assaulted at PA Abortion Clinic

The following are excerpts from an January 1, 2008 article appearing on

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“‘Man, 69, gets bones broken counseling against abortions” – January 1, 2008

Pro-life activists are calling for an investigation into – and possibly prosecution of – police officers who responded to a severely injured abortion clinic sidewalk counselor, but then allowed his suspected attacker to leave the scene.

The attack happened just before Christmas, as Ed Snell, 69, was trying to counsel women entering the Hillcrest Abortion Center in Harrisburg, Pa., according to witnesses at the scene.

According to a report by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, the work of counselors such as Snell had been so effective at Hillcrest that the abortion business had built a 7-foot-tall privacy fence to prevent counselors from speaking to women entering the business.

So counselors started bringing ladders to see over the fence. Snell, however, built a platform on top of his vehicle in order to have a more stable location to stand.

John McTernan, a witness to the incident, said Snell tried to counsel a woman who got out of a vehicle and was going towards the abortion business with a man.

However, the man suddenly jumped the fence, “leaped on the vehicle with Ed and catapulted him off of the vehicle and onto the ground,” he said. Snell landed on his back and head and was knocked unconscious, he said.

He was hospitalized with multiple trauma, bleeding in his head, compression fractures of four vertebrae, two broken ribs and a broken shoulder, the report said.

The problem escalated when three police officers who arrived on the scene to investigate allowed the attacker to leave, the report said. Even though the assailant still was in the business when officers arrived, and they were able to talk with him, they allowed the assailant and his companion to drive away, the report said.

“I cannot imagine me [as a pro-lifer], striking someone connected with Hillcrest [Abortion Center], knocking them unconscious, the police coming, the injured person being taken away in an ambulance and the police letting me go,” McTernan said. “There is something wrong with that.”

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