In another victory for life this week, a Texas appeals court dismissed a pro-abortion group’s attempt to silence pro-life leader Mark Lee Dickson and Right to Life of East Texas.
The Seventh District Court of Appeals in Texas issued a unanimous ruling Thursday dismissing the Lilith Fund’s lawsuit against Dickson and his pro-life organization. It also ordered the pro-abortion group to pay the pro-lifers’ court costs and attorneys’ fees.
The Lilith Fund accused the pro-life organization and Dickson, founder of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn initiative and a director with Right to Life of East Texas, of defamation and conspiracy in 2020.
At the center of the case were comments that Dickson made referring to the killing of unborn babies in abortions as “murder” and “criminal” based on pre-Roe v. Wade statutes in Texas that criminalize abortions. Though Roe prohibits the state from enforcing the statutes, they have not been repealed.
In its ruling Thursday, the court determined that, in the question of “defamation or protected opinion,” Dickson’s speech was constitutionally protected. It dismissed the lawsuit in a 3-0 ruling, determining that a lower court “erred” in allowing the case to continue.
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“This is a huge victory for freedom of speech,” Dickson told LifeNews.com. “The Lilith Fund has been attempting to stifle and intimidate pro-life speech by filing defamation lawsuits against people who call abortion ‘murder’ or who point out that Texas has never repealed its pre–Roe v. Wade criminal abortion statutes.”
Among other things, the Lilith Fund accused Dickson of defamation and conspiracy because he said one of its billboards declaring “Abortion is Freedom” advocated “for the murder of those innocent lives.”
The appeals court disagreed, writing, “Being opinion, the comments uttered by Dickson and upon which Lilith based its suit are inactionable.”
Dickson said the pro-abortion group’s lawsuit was “ridiculous,” and they are grateful that the court recognized that.
Previously, lawyers with the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group, slammed the Lilith Fund for attempting to silence pro-life speech through the courts.
Thomas More Society special counsel Erick Kaardal described the lawsuit as a “deliberate campaign to muzzle the voices of those who support life, especially when those voices seek to remind the public that the law of Texas continues to define abortion as a criminal offense, despite Roe v. Wade.”
The Lilith Fund is a pro-abortion Texas group that provides financial aid to help women abort their unborn babies. It also works to promote a “positive culture around abortion” and claims one of its main missions is compassion.
“The Lilith Fund and other abortion-aiding organizations all take part in the murder of innocent unborn human beings,” Dickson said, previously. “The statements which I have made are rooted not in my own imagination, but in the law written on all of our hearts, in the Constitution of the United States of America, in the Texas Constitution, and in the laws of the great State of Texas.”
Dickson has become widely known recently for his work on the Sanctuary City for the Unborn initiative, which encourages cities to adopt ordinances banning abortions. To date, 37 cities in Texas, Ohio and Nebraska have passed pro-life ordinances to protect unborn babies.
Also this week, Texas became the first state in the U.S. to be allowed to enforce a heartbeat law. The new law prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy, and has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.