by Steven Ertelt
March 18, 2008
Pittsburgh, PA (LifeNews.com) — A leading pro-life law firm has filed an appeal on behalf of a pro-life nurse suing over a local ordinance in Pittsburgh that limits abortion protests. Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund say the statute unfairly hinders free speech rights and restricts public areas outside abortion centers.
The debate revolves around a 2005 law that prohibits pro-life advocates from coming within 15 feet of the door of any health care facility, which would include abortion centers.
Within 100 feet of the entrance, pro-life advocates must stay a distance of eight feet away from anyone heading to the abortion facility.
Mary Kathryn Brown, a resident of Pittsburgh who is pro-life, has filed suit against the law as she regularly counsels women against having abortions.
U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer decided to allow the law to be enforced while the lawsuit challenging it moves forward in court.
ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman told LifeNews.com his group has appealed the decision.
Christians shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs, he said.
This ordinance is intended to silence pro-life speech only, but the First Amendment applies to everyone, including people who believe abortion is wrong. Our client simply wants to peacefully help hurting women. She should be allowed to do so while her lawsuit progresses," he explained.
Brown, a nurse from Indiana Township, says the law infringes on her constitutional rights, including her right to free speech. In March 2006, ADF filed a lawsuit on her behalf seeking to overturn the measure.
City attorney Yvonne Schlosberg Hilton claimed the ordinance is very clear and says Brown has failed to show that it limits her rights. She claimed the injunction is in the public’s best interest.
Under the ordinance, individuals are also not permitted to distribute leaflets, display a sign, or engage in protest, education, or counseling in the restricted area.
Attorneys say Brown has never trespassed or blocked people from entering or leaving abortion centers.
In January 2006, Brown tried to approach within eight feet of someone entering the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center and was threatened with arrest by a police officer.
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.telladf.org