New York’s attorney general oversaw and facilitated secret surveillance on pro-life counselors outside an abortion clinic as well as the creation of a fake identity in an attempt to win an ongoing case, according to a witness’s testimony.
Testimony in People v. Griepp et al — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against pro-life advocates counseling women outside of Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica-Queens, N.Y. — illustrated Schneiderman used a witness to spy on pro-lifers via creating a fake Facebook account to access their information.
The witness testified she had used someone else’s photo, listed her occupation as a bank teller, created a fake residency — even posting about the weather there to gain credibility — and went under the guise of “Shelly Walker.” The witness also allegedly accessed hundreds of pro-life activists’ personal information around the country — she gave the data to Schneiderman’s office, according to The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC).
“I’m appalled at the Attorney General’s lack of respect for the First Amendment and his offices’ encouragement and use of fraudulent means to obtain information so that he can persecute peaceful pro-life citizens who have become the voice of the voiceless,” TMLC president Richard Thompson said. “He [Schneiderman] has forsaken his responsibilities as an independent law-enforcement officer and is now acting as an agent of the abortion industry,” Thompson added.
Schneiderman came down hard on fake identities and fraudulent activity on the Internet in an NPR interview late January.
The lawsuit involves abortion-clinic-owner Merle Hoffman, who claims pro-lifers harassed and groped the women entering her clinic. Hoffman likened the pro-life sidewalk counselors to terrorists during her testimony: “I see that [pro-life protesting] as a type of terrorism — yes, a type of terrorism toward the patients, definitely,” Hoffman said, according to a press release sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. She also publicly compared pro-life advocates outside her clinic to the “American Taliban.” (RELATED: Abortionist Compares Pro-Lifers To The Taliban: Protesting For Life Is ‘Terrorism’).
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Martin Cannon is currently representing the pro-life advocates. “The rights we are guaranteed under the United States Constitution and First Amendment are on trial here,” Cannon stated during testimony. “Pro-life speech is protected speech, regardless of the New York Attorney General’s personal opinions about abortion,” Cannon added.
Judge Carol Bagley presides over the United States Eastern District of New York case. It began last week and will tentatively continue for a number of weeks.
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