Rockford, Illinois Places Proposed Abortion Bubble Zone Limiting Pro-Lifers on Hold
by Steven Ertelt
February 10, 2010
Rockford, IL (LifeNews.com) — Officials with the city of Rockford, IL have placed on hold a proposed bubble zone that would limit the free speech rights of pro-life advocates to protest or sidewalk counsel outside abortion centers. The idea comes after Chicago officials signed off on a similar measure there.
Rockford officials have tabled its recently proposed "bubble zone" ordinance for two months as they consider new objections from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society and local pro-life advocates.
Yesterday, attorneys from the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group, sent a letter to Rockford’s mayor and aldermen urging them to reject the bubble zone measure as ill-advised and unconstitutional.
Additionally, pro-life activists assert that enacting the bubble zone ordinance would overlook and validate the grossly objectionable activities on the part of the Northern Illinois Women’s Center, Rockford’s abortion clinic with its notorious history of displaying obscene images and harassing pro-life people.
Clinic window displays feature a host of anti-Christian symbols and messages such as "Jesus Hates You."
Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, emailed LifeNews.com about the latest developments.
"We’ve been involved in federal litigation with both the clinic proprietor, his thug ally, and Rockford for two years now, and while we had hoped to settle and compromise with the city, this proposed ‘bubble zone’ ordinance represented a major setback," he said. "Yet we’re now pleased that, at least, discussions about the negative impact and patent illegality of the ordinance are moving forward."
"This two month delay is a legal victory, albeit a modest one, as prospects for passage of the bubble zone proposal have been dimmed, if not wholly curtailed. We trust that City council members will carefully reconsider this unwise, unwelcome, ill-timed and illicit proposal," he said.
In the law firm’s letter to Rockford officials, Brejcha detailed how this new ordinance, if adopted, would infringe the free speech rights of peaceful sidewalk counselors.
The letter also conveys how the idea deprives expectant mothers of any genuine chance to make free, fully informed choices.
It also notes that the Illinois’ Labor Dispute Act, which precludes municipal regulation of labor picketing, would render Rockford’s bubble-zone "viewpoint-discriminatory" and illegal.
Pro-life advocate Kevin Rilott sent another letter to the city stating that its officials should refrain from putting their stamp of approval on the hateful, obscene and intimidating images displayed by the abortion center.
Rilott wrote, "Is this really the type of bigotry…the Rockford City council wants to protect, promote, and defend with it’s [sic] bubble zone?"
The Thomas More Society has represented pro-life activists in Rockford for several years in both federal and state courts.
Related web sites:
Thomas More Society – https://www.thomasmoresociety.org
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