This week, Life Legal Chief Legal Officer Catherine Short is in federal court in New York in yet another FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act case.
Attorney Short is representing Laura Gies, who entered All Women’s Clinic in Long Island New York hoping to speak and pray with abortion-minded women. She wanted to give women a red rose, along with a prayer card and information about alternatives to abortion. Because of her actions, she was convicted of trespass and served a jail sentence. However, Attorney General James was not content with Laura’s punishment.
James filed a federal civil lawsuit against Mrs. Gies, as well as Red Rose Rescue and other pro-lifers, claiming they violated the FACE Act. The Attorney General is seeking thousands of dollars in statutory penalties and claims that the FACE Act should be interpreted far more broadly than actual language of the statute.
In this week’s court hearing, the Attorney General argued that Laura Gies and anyone associated with Red Rose should be ordered to stay 30 feet away from every abortion clinic in the state of New York.
This expansive application of FACE is clearly intended to stifle pro-life speech.
In order to show that our client violated FACE, the Attorney General must prove that the pro-lifers intentionally restricted the freedom of movement of those “obtaining or providing reproductive health services” by means of physical obstruction. Our client did nothing of the sort.
Because the state can provide no evidence that Laura herself blocked access to the clinic, it came up with a novel legal theory, arguing that Laura obstructed patients when police officers removed her from the abortion mill. Thankfully, the court acknowledged that no court has ever ruled that someone could be held liable under FACE for this type of secondary, or vicarious, obstruction.
Life Legal is committed to opposing this – and all – government efforts to muzzle pro-lifers in violation of their First Amendment rights, and we will continue to do so with this case.