Sidewalk Advocates for Life and the Mississippi Justice Institute recently filed a lawsuit against a new ordinance restricting their pro-life speech and counseling outside the state’s last abortion clinic.
An ordinance in Jackson, Mississippi is under fire by members of the Mississippi Justice Institute and Sidewalk Advocates for Life. The ordinance in question prohibits “counseling and other free speech outside the state’s only abortion facility.”
As part of the new ordinance, individuals near the abortion facility may no longer approach within “eight feet of any person without consent, for the purpose of engaging in various forms of speech such as counseling, education, or distributing leaflets.” Additionally, the ordinance “bans people from congregating or demonstrating within 15 feet of the abortion facility, and bans any amplified sound.” Anyone who violates the ordinance may be hit with a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. As a result of the ordinance, the Mississippi Justice Institute and Sidewalk Advocates for Life filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Circuit Court.
When commenting on the matter, Aaron Rice, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute, said:
“Our clients are engaging in quintessential free speech, and they are doing so peacefully and respectfully. 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 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.”
Over the last five years, Sidewalk Advocates for Life has been busy training thousands of volunteers across the country to go to abortion facilities and offer advice on alternatives to abortion. As a result, an estimated “7,000 women and families have freely chosen the help provided and given life to their children.” Pam Miller, the Co-leader of Sidewalk Advocates for Life in Jackson, Mississippi said, “Women regularly accept our offer to help in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy…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.”