House Bill 526, sponsored by Rep. Steve Hopkins, and House Bill 628, sponsored by Rep. Randy Boyd, will prohibit municipalities from restricting free speech activities within the vicinity of a medical facility.
This is a response to the city of Jackson’s ordinance that was adopted last year and is designed to prevent individuals from engaging in free speech outside of the state’s only abortion facility.
That ordinance bans individuals who are near health facilities from approaching within eight feet of any person without consent, for the purpose of engaging in various forms of speech such as counseling, education, or distributing leaflets; bans people from congregating or demonstrating within 15 feet of the abortion facility, and bans any amplified sound. Violations of the ordinance could result in fines of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.
Shortly after the city adopted the ordinance, the Mississippi Justice Institute filed suit against the city, arguing that the prohibition violates free speech rights.
While the issue of abortion clouds the judgment of many on this issue, free speech – whether you agree with the issue or not – is something that should be encouraged, and protected.
MCPP has reviewed this legislation and finds that it is aligned with our principles and therefore should be supported.
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