by Steven Ertelt
February 15, 2007
London, England (LifeNews.com) — A pro-life British woman lost her court case regarding a conviction over supposedly harassing three pharmacists who sell the morning after pill. Veronica Connolly, of Birmingham, was convicted in 2005 for sending abortion pictures to them.
Connolly appealed the conviction and took her case to two judges at London’s High Court. She hoped they would quash the conviction and uphold her free speech and religious rights.
But the judges ruled that she had no right to cause the pharmacists "distress" from the pictures.
Lord Justice Dyson and Justice Stanley Burnt agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions that Connolly had no right to make members of the public view the pictures.
"Her right to express her views about abortion does not justify the distress and anxiety that she intended to cause those who received the photographs," Dyson said.
During a hearing on the case, Paul Diamond, her attorney, told the court that the provision under which Connolly was convicted does not applies to matters of public opinion such as abortion.
Diamond said the law she was charged under was meant to target libel and slander not public opinions on policy matters, the BBC reported.
"We say this is protected speech of the highest political, social and religious nature relating to an issue of public concern, namely abortion," he said.
Connolly, a disabled wheelchair bound Catholic grandmother, is a volunteer for the pro-life group UK LifeLeague and she will now take her case to the House of Lords.
"This is nothing short of a cruel attack upon the whole pro-life community, not to mention the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression," the group said in a statement sent to LifeNews.com responding to the decision.
"Veronica is adamant that she will not be paying any fines that are imposed upon her and is prepared to go to jail if necessary," the group added.
Connolly started writing to the pharmacists in 2004. She was eventually given a 12-month deferred sentence and ordered to pay the pharmacists’ legal costs.
Her case follows that of 74 year-old Edward Atkinson.
He was held criminally liable for repeatedly mailing pictures of abortions to staff at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The hospital eventually took Atkinson off a waiting list for a hip surgery and banned him from receiving any medical treatment other than care for something life-threatening. LifeNews.com reported on the story and the hospital was deluged with mail.
Atkinson showed up at QEH hospital for an eye exam he previously made and was turned away by staff there. After arguing with staff, they escorted him from the building and gave him another copy of a letter saying he would only be treated for life-threatening injuries.
Under the terms of his conviction, Atkinson must submit to a probation period of five years, under which he cannot mail the hospital.