The new 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 or education or distributing leaflets; bans people from congregating or demonstrating within fifteen 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.
“Our clients are engaging in quintessential free speech, and they are doing so peacefully and respectfully,” said Aaron Rice, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute. “They care deeply for the unborn and feel morally led to offer life-affirming alternatives to people entering an abortion facility. Jackson’s new ordinance is an attempt to silence our clients’ speech, and we are proud to stand with them and defend their rights.
“Regardless of what anyone thinks of our clients’ views, we all should recognize that they have the right to hold those views. And just as importantly, they have the right to express those views, and to try to convince others to adopt their views. That is the very meaning of a free society.”
In the past five years, Sidewalk Advocates for Life has trained thousands of volunteers to go to abortion facilities to simply offer loving, life-affirming alternatives to abortion. In that time, nearly 7,000 women and families have freely chosen the help provided and given life to their children.
“Women regularly accept our offer to help in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy, said Pam Miller, Co-Leader of Sidewalk Advocates for Life – Mississippi.“In fact, in partnership with other peaceful community members, more women than ever -- at least 30 this year alone -- have opted to take advantage of the free, alternative resources the Jackson community provides. We are committed to connecting women with the loving, life-affirming assistance they deserve, and we will continue to serve the women of Mississippi in a peaceful and law-abiding way.”
The lawsuit was filed in Hinds County Circuit Court. A copy of the complaint can be found here.