SECOND GROUP CHALLENGES FLORIDA ABORTION CLINIC PROTEST LIMITS ORLANDO, FL (APRIL 14) UPI
SECOND GROUP CHALLENGES FLORIDA ABORTION CLINIC PROTEST LIMITS ORLANDO, FL
(APRIL 14) UPI - A second group has legally challenged a judicial order
restricting anti-abortion rights protests at central Florida clinics,
saying the order "has buried the First Amendment."
Matthew Staver, an attorney for the religious civil liberties group
Liberty Counsel, asked the Orlando federal court to overturn Circuit Judge
Robert McGregor's ruling Tuesday on grounds that it is unconstitutional.
The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp, who was
reviewing the request but had not scheduled a hearing, a clerk said
McGregor's order requires anti-abortion rights protesters to stay at least
36 feet away from clinic property in Brevard and Seminole Counties, and at
least one block away from the homes of clinic workers.
It also prohibits protesters from making noise audible inside the clinic,
handing out literature to motorists and showing pictures of dead fetuses.
The federal case was filed on behalf of Mryna Cheffer of Longwood, an
abortion rights opponent whose "rights" would be impaired unless
McGregor's order is overturned, Staver said.
"She is not in jail now, but she plans to demonstrate this weekend and
could end up in jail if she does," Staver said.
An attorney for "Rescue America," a Houston group that opposes abortion
rights, also has challenged McGregor's order in the state courts.
Attorney Christopher Weiss asked Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal
in Daytona Beach to overturn the ruling on grounds that it violates First
Amendment guarantees of free expression.
Weiss said the order is illegal because it applies only to people who
oppose abortion rights.
McGregor issued his order at the request of clinic owners and employees,
who accused the protesters of threatening them and harassing their
Clinic owner Patricia Baird Windle said she is not surprised by the
lawsuits because, "The antis have hid behind the First Amendment
throughout this terrorism."
Fifty-one anti-abortion rights protesters were arrested Saturday for
violating McGregor's order while picketing the Aware Woman Center for
Choice in Melbourne. Twenty who refused to give their names remained in
The debate over McGregor's ruling created an unusual alliance between the
anti-abortion rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union, which
plans to argue as a friend of the court that McGregor's ruling is
"overbroad" in limiting free speech.
James Hooper, a spokesman for ACLU's Brevard County chapter, said the
group firmly supports the legal right to abortion, but believes McGregor
"may have gone a bit beyond what was necessary."
Hooper said the ACLU decided to participate because, "We don't want
Operation Rescue National defining what is constitutional for us without
letting the court have the benefit of ACLU thinking also."
The debate over clinic protests has taken on new intensity since Dr. David
Gunn was shot to death March 10 outside of the Pensacola abortion clinic
where he worked. Michael Griffin, a 31-year-old anti-abortion rights
protester, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting.
Transmitted: 93-04-14 11:26:00 EDT
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