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 July 22, 2023

Pro-life activists petitioning Supreme Court for 1st Amendment protections outside of abortion clinics

Catholic sidewalk counselor Debra Vitagliano has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a previous ruling that limited the speech of pro-life activists outside of abortion clinics, the Daily Caller reported. The petition was made Friday against a New York law.

In June 2022, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed a new restriction on the speech and activity of protesters around abortion clinics after Roe v. Wade was overturned. It created a so-called "buffer zone" of 100 feet around the clinics that made it illegal to conduct "oral protest, education, or counseling" without permission.

With the help of Becket Law, Vitagliano is challenging that law and the precedent set by Hill V. Colorado. That law which is similar to the Westchester County restrictions was upheld by the high court in 2000.

"No one should be arrested and put behind bars for having peaceful, face-to-face conservations on a public sidewalk," Becket Law's president and CEO, Mark Rienzi, said in a statement from the non-profit. "The Court should fix the mistake of Hill and make clear that the First Amendment protects these offers of help and information to women in need."

The New York law in question imposes up to six months in jail or a fine of $1,000 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses could carry up to one year in prison and $5,000 in fines.

This became an issue for Vitagliano shortly after she was trained in how to counsel women on their way into abortion clinics. In her petition, Vitagliano contends that the county passed its law even though it knew the Hill decision was "on unsure footing and ripe for overruling."

Westchester County hastily passed the legislation following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that reversed Roe's nearly half-century of bad precedent. Vitagliano believes that it's incumbent upon the court to reverse the Hill precedent as well.

"I am called to be a compassionate voice to abortion-vulnerable women, letting them know that that they are loved, supported, and can choose life for their babies," Vitagliano, who also volunteered for a crisis pregnancy center, said in her statement. "I pray that the Justices will take this case and allow me to help women in need."

The pro-abortion zealots insist their side is only about giving women a "choice." However, at every turn, they are intent on making sure women are deprived of just that.

These laws seek to restrict women's access to alternatives besides abortion. Pro-life pregnancy centers that offer support to women in crisis pregnancies are routinely vandalized and attacked without any consequences to the perpetrators, Fox News reported.

President Joe Biden's FBI even went after sidewalk counselor Mark Houck on trumped-up charges relating to an altercation he had with an abortion clinic escort, the Catholic News Agency reported. The agency conducted an early morning raid on the home of the father of seven in September 2022.

His wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, said "a SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door," she recalled. "They said they were going to break in if he didn’t open it," Ryan-Marie Houck said.

"And then they had about five guns pointed at my husband, myself, and basically at my kids," she added. The couple is now suing involved agencies for the trauma and intimidation after Mark Houck was acquitted of all charges.

If abortion truly is good for women and the debate is only about choice, Westchester County's law would never have been passed. It's clear that those in favor of abortion are afraid that when actually given options, many mothers will choose to let their babies live.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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