Friday, June 02, 2023

Lawsuit Challenges Laws Restricting Abortion Clinic Sidewalk Counselors

Suit was filed yesterday in a Colorado federal district court challenging on free speech grounds a Colorado statute and a Denver ordinance that prohibit approaching a person within 8 feet of an abortion clinic or other health care facility "for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to ..., or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person." According to the complaint (full text) in Faustin v. Polis, (D CO, filed 6/1/2023):

Defendants’ ban on approaching women outside of abortion clinics to speak with them unquestionably discriminates based on the content—and even the viewpoint—of speech. On its face, the ban applies only to speech with a particular purpose and message: speech “for the purpose . . . of engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling.”... And it targets only that speech on one side of the abortion debate: speech “protest[ing] or counsel[ing] against” what Colorado euphemistically terms “certain medical procedures.”... Defendants’ ban is also content- and viewpoint-based due to the nature of its justification: protecting the “unwilling listener’s interest in avoiding unwanted communication” from pro-life speakers when seeking “access to a medical facility.”...

First Liberty Institute issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.