Internal Revenue Service agents told one pro-life group it could get tax-exempt status only if it vowed not to protest Planned Parenthood. They told another group it had to promote abortion, Fox News reports
"The IRS was concerned about advocacy," Sally Wagenmaker, special counsel to the Thomas More Society, told Fox. "The (agent) said picketing and protesting is not allowed."
Coalition for Life of Iowa received a response from the IRS in 2009 asking about their prayer activities outside Planned Parenthood clinics. Coalition board members were asked to sign a statement that the group would not picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood or similar organizations and would not organize others to do so, Wagenmaker told Fox News.
"It really concerned me there would seem to be this protection of Planned Parenthood," Wagenmaker said. "They had revenues of $55 million, and the Coalition is just a group of volunteers."
Wagenmaker wrote to the IRS at the time that its actions "come perilously close to violating the First Amendment constitutional rights of the Coalition's supporters."
Christian Voices For Life of Fort Bend County, Texas, faced similar problems. Wagenmaker said the IRS questioned whether the group provided education on both sides of the issue.
"Your question implies some sort of legal duty to provide a balanced presentation of educational information," Wagenmaker wrote the IRS. She said they were implying that a pro-life group should have to present the abortion rights side of the issue.
Both groups had their tax-exempt status approved shortly after Wagenmaker pushed back.
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