PLLDF Responds to New Law Restricting Pro-Life Speech
The new law, which specifically targets only medical
facilities where abortions are performed, contains serious constitutional
problems. The Supreme Court has stated that the First Amendment’s purpose is to
“preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately
prevail…,” and that being confronted with uncomfortable messages on public
sidewalks is a “virtue, not a vice.” Unfortunately, the crippling criminal and
civil penalties imposed by the new law will prevent our sidewalks from being
public forums where truth can be safely pursued.
Under the vague language of the new law, even a simple
physical act protected by the Constitution, such as peacefully offering an
informational pro-life pamphlet, can be deemed intimidating. Peaceful pro-life
counselors can be subjected to liability for compensatory or punitive monetary
damages, legal costs, attorney’s fees, and expert witness fees for such acts –
without being afforded any tantamount protections from wrongful accusations. The resultant fear of draconian and unequal penalties
will surely chill pro-life free speech and the pursuit of truth.
Furthermore, by giving police officers new and unfettered
discretion to exercise powers previously reserved for judges, the new law threatens
the free speech rights of peaceful, pro-life counselors who seek only to offer
vulnerable women help, love, and support.
The manner in which the new law is enforced will be a
significant factor in the nature of any future constitutional challenge to the
new law. Enforcement of the new law will be closely followed.