June 20, 2001
Police Rescind Order Against Pro-Life Activists
By Rusty Pugh and Jody Brown for the Agape Press
(AgapePress) - An attorney with the American Family Association says pro-life activities can resume in a Connecticut city which had illegally targeted pro-life counselors.
Police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, have changed course in the face of a federal lawsuit and rescinded an order that infringed on the constitutional rights of peaceful sidewalk counselors and pro-life advocates. AFA Center for Law & Policy attorney Steve Crampton says police had been illegally using a court injunction and selectively enforcing a local loitering ordinance against pro-life activists.
Those activists, according to a press release from the AFA Law Center, would counsel abortion clinic clients against getting an abortion, encourage alternatives such as adoption, share their own post-abortion tragedies, and offer literature, prayer, and other forms of aid. Crampton says he hopes this move by the police department is a significant and lasting recognition of First Amendment rights.
"We're gratified that they are beginning to recognize the value of First Amendment rights, even for those who hold pro-life values and beliefs," Crampton says. "It is grievous, really, that public funds -- taxpayer money -- has been used for years to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance ... malicious prosecutions against gentle folks."
Crampton says police were harassing all pro-lifers based on a 1997 injunction against a lone individual who protested outside the Summit Women's Health Center, an abortion clinic in Bridgeport. He says it is unfortunate that a federal lawsuit was necessary to restore constitutional rights that others enjoy as a matter of course.