In November 2013, the city of Portland, Maine established a city ordinance that created a 39-foot “buffer zone” around its only Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, Portland Health Center. The buffer zone would not allow protests within its perimeter. Now pro-lifers are going to fight back with a lawsuit charging that the ordinance is unconstitutional and a violation of free speech.
The Thomas More Law Center filed lawsuit on behalf of Daniel and Marguerite Fitzgerald and their two high school children, challenging the Portland Ordinance.
The Fitzgerald’s have been involved in protests, counseling and offering literature outside the abortion facility for over a year. According to LifeNews.com:
The lawsuit claims that the city ordinance was enacted to prevent pro-life speech near abortion clinics. The ordinance was enacted as an “emergency measure” by Portland’s City Council on November 18, 2013.
Portland Health Center is located in an urban area on a busy street. The prohibited zone created by the ordinance forces the Fitzgerald family and other pro-life individuals to engage people entering the abortion clinic from either the end of the street or across the street, effectively prohibiting their ability to conduct their outreach. The city ordinance specifically prohibits counseling or protesting of any sort, with the exemption of clinic escorts, within the buffer zone. Violations of the ordinance are punishable by a minimum $100 fine.
Erin Mersino, a TMLC attorney handling the case stated,
“The Fitzgerald family peacefully informs women entering the clinic of their options, including their choice not to abort their child. This ordinance makes it impossible for women considering abortion to hear what other options and support they have and forces people, like the Fitzgerald family, to stand on the opposite side of the street from these women, beyond ear shot. The ordinance not only prohibits the Fitzgeralds’ peaceful sidewalk counseling, but it also has the un-American effect of banning those with the same viewpoint as the Fitzgeralds from a large stretch of the public sidewalk.”
LifeSite News reported last year:
Pro-life attendees at the meeting said they are acting to protect the unborn. “Who will speak for these unborn children?” asked one resident, Derek Abbott, who belongs to the Pro Life Missionaries of Maine. The pro-life protests have included graphic images of aborted babies.
According to Jon Scruggs, the Legal Counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the buffer zone “was obviously intended to take away rights and squelch pro-life speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.” He told LifeSiteNews.com that “pro-life advocates shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs. They have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America.”
Despite claims by Planned Parenthood and the Portland Health Center murder mill that protesters were threatening and harassing women who entered the clinic, Police chief Michael Sauschuck, whose officers observed the protests, said that no criminal conduct was present and that no arrests were made.
City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones, Jr. attempted to say that this was not a violation of free speech. “People can still express their free speech with this buffer zone,” said City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. “That’s not being taken away from anyone.”
However, one must ask if Mr. Mavodones had a buffer placed upon himself and other council members regarding being able to speak on public property if he would consider that a violation of free speech.
Interestingly enough, a Planned Parenthood supporter by the name of Doug Emerson came to side with the protesters. Though he disagrees with the protesters, he recognizes they have a right to speak out against what they believe is wrong. “I can’t believe I am speaking on behalf of what I call the other side,” Emerson said. “It’s not as though democracy is pretty or easy.”
“It’s not about free speech. It’s about bullying and harassment,” said Deena Metzler, who murdered her unborn child, via an abortion, after hearing from the protesters. “We don’t accept this in public schools. We shouldn’t accept it from one adult to another.”
Physician Becky Hunt said the protests “threaten the lives and well-being of women,” because they have cancelled their appointments to murder their children due to the protesters engaging them.
It seems to me the lives threatened are those of the unborn. They are the ones beheaded, ripped apart and scalded to death. In some cases, the women’s very lives have been lost due to abortions. A woman’s health is not in danger from being pregnant. That is a natural occurrence in nature. No, this is about silencing those willing to speak the truth in love to women who are being lied to by the murderous Planned Parenthood and abortion activist in our land. May God bless those who stand for the unborn and may He grant the Fitzgerald’s victory in their lawsuit.