A state judge in New Mexico has ruled that a man can keep up, for now, the billboard he paid for that condemns his girlfriend’s apparent abortion — an advertisement that has generated national controversy.
Greg Fultz erected the billboard weeks ago with the words, “This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!” The billboard shows a picture of Fultz holding an outline of a an infant.
Fulz’s girlfriend, Nani Lawrence, has sued and claims the billboard violates her right to privacy and a local court has suggested that the billboard be removed. Fultz and his attorney have appealed the restraining order saying that his rights to free speech are abridged by it. Also at issue is whether Lawrence ever had an abortion — she contends she did not and the baby may have died as the result of a miscarriage.
In a new decision, Judge James Counts ruled Fulz can keep up the billboard on the main street of Alamogordo for now, but he wants to schedule a full hearing on the matter of Fulz’s free speech versus Lawrence’s claims to a right to privacy. His decision for the full hearing came after Fulz appealed his earlier decision for a temporary injunction saying the billboard should come down while the lawsuit moves forward.
“The court has to weigh and balance at this point the potential infringement of constitutional rights,” Counts said from the bench, according to the Alamogordo Daily News. “It doesn’t indicate how the court will rule ultimately once we have a hearing. The right to free speech has been generously regarded by the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts. Until we have a full hearing, I don’t feel comfortable infringing upon that.”
The newspaper indicates the contract Fulz has with the billboard company expires August 15, so he will be able to keep the billboard up for a couple of weeks, at least.
Fulz told the newspaper he was pleased with the decision and is happy that his message of a denial of rights for fathers, who have no say in an abortion decision, has gotten out to the public.
“It’s about time something went in our favor,” he said. “I am glad the judge made good decision on not being able to comfortably make a decision in a rush moment (about the billboard).”
“I feel the message has got out,” he said. “The only reason it’s become viewed as a personal attack is because the other side has made it that way.”
“For them to go through this forum I believe is the improper forum,” Holmes said. “We won an important battle in First Amendment protection for Greg’s right to get his message out there.”
Ellen Jessen, the attorney for Lawrence, says she has not discussed the pregnancy or potential abortion with her client because privacy rights and not abortion is the central point of the lawsuit. Lawrence admits she did not consult with Fultz about the fate of their unborn child but, according to AP, denies she had an abortion. She and friends claim she ultimately had a miscarriage that took the life of the baby.
Matt Bowman, a pro-life attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, commented on the billboard controversy and said the whole incident outlines the grief fathers bear in the abortion process.
“Regardless of the prudential character of this particular billboard, it does highlight a deep and festering wound in our society: the harm that abortion causes to the fathers of aborted children,” he said. “Most attention on post-abortion psychological harm is focused on the mothers, but men similarly have intense grief due to abortions of their children, both when they participate and when the abortion is done against their wishes.”
“Longstanding post-abortion healing organizations such as Rachel’s Vineyard, or the Catholic Church’s Project Rachel ministry, can be contacted for specific resources to help men heal from abortion,” he noted.
Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council agrees with the post-abortion remarks.
“While abortion is often touted as a woman’s issue, a woman’s choice, the father is equally a parent to the developing little baby yet often lacks standing when it comes to a decision about abortion,” she said. “One such man from New Mexico was recently silenced when he wanted to preserve and protect the life of his developing baby. His girlfriend had the abortion despite his convictions. He was so distressed and angered by his lack of choice in the matter that he commissioned a billboard on a major highway to communicate his experience.”
Right to Life of New Mexico initially endorsed the billboard but backed out of co-sponsoring it upon learning of the details behind it.