PJ Media

State of Maine Sues to Muzzle Pro-Life Preacher

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has decided that the women waiting inside a Portland clinic to lose their babies to an abortionist have heard more than enough from Brian Ingalls.

Police warned him. They said doctors, nurses and patients were complaining. Ingalls refused to put a lid on it.

So, Mills has filed a lawsuit to shut him up for good — or at least move him far enough away from the Planned Parenthood clinic that his warnings about a dismal afterlife for those who take the life of an unborn child can’t be heard. But attorneys for the Thomas More Law Center argue that is a violation of the man’s constitutional rights and they are committed to standing alongside Ingalls in court.

The 26-year-old man was outside the Planned Parenthood healthcare facility so often he was close to being a streetlight. Ingalls was out there nearly every day, preaching so loudly against abortion and about Jesus that doctors and nurses on the second floor, where the abortions happen, say the noise was interfering with their work.

Ingalls could face fines of as much as $5,000 for each time he violates a 50-foot buffer zone that Mills wants to create outside the Planned Parenthood clinic.

Mills said in a statement that her office understands the need to protect Ingalls’ First Amendment rights. But Mills also said there is another “right” involved in this case as far as she is concerned — the right to adequate medical care.

She said the Maine Civil Rights Act protects the right of any person to receive any sort of medical services without disruptions caused by loud noises. As Mills explained it, the statute makes it a civil rights violation to intentionally make noise at such a volume that it can be heard within a building where medical treatment is provided, when the violator has been warned to cease making such noise and when he has the intent to interfere with the safe and effective delivery of health services.

“All patients have the right to receive medical services free of ‘the cacophony of political protests,’ in the words of the United States Supreme Court,” said Attorney General Mills. “While protesters have every right to say anything they want in a public area in the vicinity of a medical facility, they are not permitted to disrupt another citizen’s healthcare services.”

But Richard Thompson, the Thomas More Law Center’s president and chief counsel and a former prosecuting attorney, said Mills’ lawsuit is nothing but “a blatant abuse of her powers to aid the pro-abortion political establishment dominating the city of Portland.”

This is not the first time the Thomas More Law Center has waged a legal battle in Maine over anti-abortion protests outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Portland.

Portland previously banned pro-life advocates from the public sidewalk in front of the same Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where Ingalls is preaching. City officials set up a 39-foot buffer zone around all of the entrances, exits, and driveways of the business.

Well, that didn’t last long. The Thomas More Law Center successfully challenged the constitutionality of Portland’s buffer zone ordinance in federal court and obtained a judgment declaring that the buffer zone violated the First Amendment.

Erin Kuenzig was the Thomas More Law Center’s trial counsel who argued on behalf of anti-abortion protestors who want to be as close as possible to women going into the Planned Parenthood clinic. She said with the lawsuit against Ingalls, Attorney General Mills has simply launched a new attack against pro-life speech.

A U.S. district court decision not only put a stop to the 39-foot buffer zone — the city of Portland was also ordered to pay pro-life protesters’ legal bills of more than $56,000.

Kuenzig said the only reason Portland city officials enacted its buffer-zone ordinance was because they didn’t like the message pro-lifers were communicating outside of the city’s Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.

She argued there was never any legitimate reason for banning peaceful, law-abiding citizens from using the entire public sidewalk surrounding the downtown building that houses Planned Parenthood.

Now that the 39-foot buffer zone is gone, Kuenzig said if defies belief the city wants to push Ingalls outside an even larger zone.

But, maybe it is believable.

As far as Kuenzig and the Thomas More Law Center are concerned, it is typical throughout the nation for the abortion industry giant to seek to silence pro-life opposition, and the consequent threat to its substantial profits, by shutting down the free speech rights of “pro-life sidewalk counselors.”

“But this is the first time that the Maine Civil Rights Act has been used against pro-life advocates in an attempt to stifle their message and create a de facto 50-foot buffer zone,” Kuenzig said.

“The Attorney General’s baseless pro-abortion tactic seeks to silence pro-life speech,” she added. “Such biased action by a state’s chief law enforcement officer is not only unconstitutional, but it also corrupts the entire justice system.”