New York Sues Pro-Lifers For Picketing Outside An Abortion Clinic
The New York attorney general filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against pro-lifers advocating for their beliefs outside an abortion clinic in Queens, New York.
The lawsuit alleges that protesters violated federal, state, and local laws by picketing outside the clinic, and that their expressions of speech have been aggressive attempts to impede access to reproductive health care.
The motion seeks to create a buffer zone around the clinic premises and is the result of AG Eric Schneiderman’s June 2016 investigation of complaints about the protestors, according to Breaking 911.
“The law guarantees women the right to control their own bodies and access the reproductive health care they need, without obstruction. We’ll do what it takes to protect those rights for women across New York,” Schneiderman said in a statement outside the clinic Tuesday.
The Attorney General’s claims are brought under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), the New York State Clinic Access Act (NY Clinic Access Act), and the New York City Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act (NYC Clinic Access Act).
“It is as old as the First Amendment that proper restrictions on time, place and manner of speech are totally lawful. There are many things that are ‘speech’ that are restricted by the law,” Schneiderman said.
If a new law was passed, it would be “an unnecessary encumbrance,” Florence Maloney, the chairwoman of a New York State Right to Life affiliate committee in Queens, said.
“I understand that protesting and free speech are protected rights. However, it’s very clear that what’s occurring when these groups protest abortion clinics is not merely voicing a different opinion,” said Calla Hales, a clinic administrator at Preferred Women’s Health Center in Charlotte, NC.
Protestors have allegedly pushed patients into clinic walls, blocked car doors, shoved their heads through car windows, shoved volunteer escorts, and pinned women against parking meters, according to Newsweek and other media.
The video below depicts numerous escorts dressed in green vests standing in front of Choices Women’s Medical Center along with a few pro-life protesters. The video shows no raucous angry mob shoving women into walls, but only two protesters holding signs.
The city of Jackson, Mississippi, recently entered into a consent decree with pro-lifers when the federal court stated it would not interfere with anyone holding signs or “speaking and/or preaching” on the public sidewalks. Picketers no longer have to follow city ordinances for noise levels, signage, or buffer zones according to the decree.
The United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that barred protesters from approaching clinic entrances in 2014, saying the law violated free-speech rights.
Schneiderman’s lawsuit follows a number of actions taken by the AG to prevent pro-life advocates from expressing their views, including court-ordered protections for a Planned Parenthood clinic in Utica.
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