Aurora, Illinois Reaches Settlement With Pro-Life Advocates for Abortion Protests
by Steven Ertelt
November 12, 2009
Aurora, IL (LifeNews.com) — The city of Aurora and pro-life advocates under the banner of the Pro-Life Action League have settled a years-long lawsuit related to protests at the large new Planned Parenthood abortion facility. The Aurora city council agreed to the settlement that lays out provisions protecting the rights of pro-life advocates at the abortion center.
A win for pro-life advocates, the agreement recognizes the rights of protesters and secures comprehensive protection for citizens who wish to speak out in front of one of the nation’s largest abortion facilities.
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, told LifeNews.com he is thrilled with the agreement.
"With this new agreement in place, the pro-life community’s peaceful outreach to abortion-bound mothers can proceed without hindrance, and the uncertainty and confusion that has characterized the police response to pro-life protests at Planned Parenthood should finally end," he said.
The settlement exemplifies the kind of cooperation between municipalities and peaceful pro-life activists that is needed across the country, he said.
The new agreement demonstrates that there is no need to silence protesters in "bubble zones" like the one to be enacted later this month in Chicago and another that was recently struck down that covered Pittsburgh, he added.
In the settlement agreement, the City of Aurora agreed to recognize the rights of pro-life citizens to protest abortion and offer alternatives and provide special First Amendment and non- discriminatory law enforcement training to police officers in collaboration with pro-lifers.
The city will amend two ordinances related to parades and residential picketing to make them less restrictive of free speech protests and will refrain from arresting pro-life protestors for trespassing if they are walking or standing on the Planned Parenthood side of the access road in front of the facility.
Aurora officials will also concede pro-lifers’ right to post a reasonable number of signs in the ground during protests and vigils and will remove signs erected on Oakhurst Drive in 2007 prohibiting protest activity.
In return, the pro-life group agreed to limit protest activity on the east side of Oakhurst Drive, continue their standard practice of posting warning signs when graphic abortion posters are used at their monthly protests and drop their federal lawsuit against the City.
"I am encouraged by the spirit of collaboration that gave rise to the settlement, and hope that it will become a model for other municipalities reluctant to fully recognize and respect the Constitutional freedoms of pro-life activists," said Scheidler.
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