by Steven Ertelt
August 17, 2004
Allentown, PA (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates in two cities are benefiting from court rulings allowing them greater latitude in their protests outside abortion facilities.
In Allentown, Pennsylvania, a federal court has allowed protesters to picket on a street near the entrance of the Allentown Women’s Center abortion business.
Judge James M. Kelly of Philadelphia ruled earlier this month that restrictions the city placed on the pro-life protesters improperly infringed on their First Amendment rights. The city had restricted activists to other nearby streets and prevented them from accessing the street across from the abortion facility.
Judge Kelly’s order prevents the city from enforcing the protest restrictions, according to the Allentown Morning Call newspaper.
”Plaintiffs … are permitted to engage in their protests on Keats Street so long as they conduct their protest activities along the public walkways of Keats Street, in a lawful manner that does not obstruct traffic … or the entrances to the or the … parking lot,” Judge Kelly wrote, according to the Morning Call report.
Attorneys from the American Catholic Lawyers Association helped local pro-life advocates file a lawsuit against the city in January.
Meanwhile, the city of West Palm Beach, Florida admitted before a judge that the property outside of an abortion business there is in the public domain and the city will discontinue its arrest of pro-life protesters for trespassing.
According to an Associated Press report, the city has arrested or threatened to arrest numerous protesters.
Pro-life advocates contended the property was public, and a survey of the zoning laws in June confirmed their claims.
Assistant City Attorney Joni Hamilton told U.S. District Judge William Zloch, "We will no longer continue any policy to arrest or threaten to arrest people in those areas."
American Family Association attorney Michael DePrimo represented the pro-life activists. He accused the city of delaying tactics in the case by waiting until July, after the hearing was set for the lawsuit, to tell the protesters that it will change the arrest policy.
According to the AP report, West Palm Beach did defend its noise ordinance which prevents the protesters from using certain types of sound amplification, but allows the abortion facility to play music to annoy the protesters.