FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2009
Washington, D.C. Today, Americans United for Life (AUL) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to hear a challenge to, and ultimately strike down, a 2007 Massachusetts law criminalizing the peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights outside abortion clinics.
“This law is an affront to the basic, fundamental right to free speech,” said Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life, “and we are simply asking the Supreme Court to uphold the First Amendment.”
The 2007 law establishes a 35 foot “no-enter zone,” also known as a bubble zone, around state abortion clinics. Citizens who advise against abortion within this zone can be arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights. Under the law, anyone who, at the request of a woman entering an abortion clinic, approaches her to talk is subject to immediate arrest. Incredibly, an abortion clinic employee or “escort” may enter the “zone” and convince the woman to proceed into the clinic and undergo an abortion.
“This law is breathtaking in its utter disregard for the constitutional rights of American citizens,” noted Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs, William Saunders, “The scope of prohibited conduct is staggering. Praying, wearing a pro-life t-shirt, displaying a pro-life sign, handing out written information about the negative impact of abortion on women, or simply talking to other Americans who are concerned about abortion are all essentially outlawed practices outside of a Massachusetts abortion clinic.”
AUL is representing 40 Days for Life, a successful community-based campaign that draws attention to abortion through prayer, fasting, peaceful vigils outside abortion clinics, and other forms of community outreach. The most recent 40 Days for Life campaign was conducted in 212 communities across the United States with more than 85,000 participants nationwide.
AUL’s brief in McCullen v. Coakley is available at http://blog.aul.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/McCullen-v.-Coakley-AUL-amicus-brief.pdf