New York Pro-Life Advocates: Law Limiting Abortion Protests Hits Free Speech
by Steven Ertelt
September 25, 2008
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates in New York City are upset about a newly-proposed law that would limit abortion-related protests and activities. They say it unfairly targets their free speech rights and they highlighted the new law during a City Council meeting on Wednesday night.
The Clinic Access Bill is a 15-foot buffer law that limits pro-life advocates from coming within 15 feet of the entrance to an abortion business or women going to one for an abortion.
The measure would also increase the penalties for violating the buffer zone to a misdemeanor crime.
Backers of the bill say it was meant to close loopholes in a 14-year-old statute that abortion advocates claimed was insufficient.
But Chris Slattery, founder and president of Expectant Mother Care-EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, a collection of 10 pregnancy centers in New York City, disagrees.
"A vicious assault on the freedoms of speech, and assembly were launched against the peaceful and prayerful New York City pro-life community yesterday with the announcement of a new ‘Clinics Access Bill’ the first day of the nationwide 40 Days for Life campaign," he told LifeNews.com.
"The NYC Council President, Christine Quinn, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the NY Civil Liberties Union have designed a bogus law to empower NYC abortion facility staff to actually become rogue, vigilante prosecutors and persecutors of local pro-life life-saving, and life-changing sidewalk counselors," Slattery charged.
Slattery said the law only came into play because abortion centers are upset that pregnancy center staff are hurting their business.
"These mostly volunteer street counselors, working with and for local pregnancy centers who compete with abortion mills, often hurt abortion businesses by successfully and peacefully dissuading abortion patients from entering their sites when offered free help, education, medical care, and housing, " Slattery said.
"This un-American bill will inhibit and chill all the free speech necessary to inform abortion clinic patients of their right to know the alternatives to abortion, not currently required by New York City or State law," he says.
Slattery tells LifeNews.com that he is working with other pro-life advocates to assemble a team of attorneys to potentially challenge the legal basis for the proposal.
"Within minutes of learning of this new proposed bill on Wednesday, I contacted David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, and we have begun assembling a crack legal team and activist support network for a full scale counter-attack against this unfair, biased and blatantly unconstitutional bill," he said.
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