A pro-life counselor who repeatedly assisted women considering abortion has won a dispute with Raleigh, North Carolina, over a “safe zone” in which the city had banned free speech.
Brandi Kraus runs Open Arms Ministry, which helps women facing crisis pregnancies by offering support and alternatives to abortion.
The Center for Religious Expression, which defended Kraus, said that to reach these women, she “goes to the public right-of-way in front of an abortion clinic in downtown Raleigh so she can engage women in compassionate conversations, and hand them literature about abortion and alternatives.”
However, in late September, Raleigh police announced that the public right-of-way in front of the clinic “would now be considered a ‘safe zone’ from which Kraus and others espousing like views would be banned,” the organization said.
The change in policy forced Kraus to be across the street from the clinic, where she had no opportunity to share her message.
The center then wrote to the city, pointing out that the safe zone policy was in violation of the First Amendment, “selectively banning speech about abortion and suppressing Kraus’ life-affirming message.”
The city relented, eliminated the safe zone and allowed Kraus to return to peacefully sharing her message, the center said.
“The public should have the right to talk wherever they have the right to walk,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Public ways are inherently safe zones for speech. Thankfully, Raleigh has ended its practice of treating them as areas that safe from speech.”
He continued: “Doubtless, the abortion clinic won’t be happy that pro-life counselors are returning to the right-of-way. We hope Raleigh refrains from hatching up a new scheme to shut down speakers like Kraus.”