Officials in Rochester, New York, have decided that pro-life marchers have First Amendment rights, frustrating Planned Parenthood abortionists who tried to use an injunction in a separate dispute to stop them from counseling mothers-to-be.
The word of the decision comes from the Thomas More Society, which argued on behalf of members of ROC Sidewalk Advocates for Life.
The non-profit has been offering alternatives to abortion to women going to a Planned Parenthood abortion business on University Avenue in Rochester.
The legal team said Jim Havens and other group members “did this on the public sidewalk without restriction.”
That was until June, when Planned Parenthood obtained an injunction from a 2005 case that prohibited a different group of protesters from approaching within 15 feet of the entrance.
Abortionists prevailed on police to begin enforcing the injunction from the older case against the new marchers.
Until this week.
The society said it has received notice from Rochester that the city will no longer impose the old restrictions, which resulted from a previous organization’s lawsuit.
“The zone is marked by yellow lines painted across the sidewalk on either side of the Planned Parenthood facility entrance,” the lawyers said.
The legal team wrote to the city, arguing the old injunction wasn’t applicable to the new counselors and that police enforcing it were denying the pro-life advocates their First Amendment rights.
“The letter pointed out that Havens and members of ROC Sidewalk Advocates for Life were not defendants in the 2005 legal matter, and were not acting in concert with anyone who was violating the injunction. For that reason, they are not subject to it and could not violate it.”
Patrick Beath, deputy corporate counsel for the city, said the city of Rochester agrees.
Thomas Olp, Thomas More Society vice president, said the “practical effect of the city of Rochester’s agreement is that Mr. Havens and the ROC Sidewalk Advocates for Life can ignore the yellow lines on the sidewalk that mark the injunction’s fifteen-foot buffer zone around the Planned Parenthood entrance in Rochester.”
He pointed out that such injunctions cannot be enforced “against the world at large, as the police tried to do here.”
He explained, “Jim Havens and his group may not be threatened with contempt simply because Planned Parenthood doesn’t want them on the public sidewalk outside their abortion clinic, when Havens and his group were not parties to the original lawsuit, and are not acting in concert with any party violating the injunction.
“The injunction is not a ‘free pass’ allowing police to restrict free speech rights of pro-life advocates who did not prompt the issuance of the injunction, were given no due process ‘say’ in the proceeding that gave rise to it, and have never assisted those bound by the injunction to violate it.”