Pro-life advocates call City of Jackson’s buffer zone ordinance ‘unconstitutional’ and file lawsuit

Updated: Oct. 14, 2019 at 7:13 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Pro-life and pro-choice advocates were on the steps of the Supreme Court Monday as the Sidewalk Advocates for Life presented their lawsuit.

Aaron Rice, director of the Mississippi Institute of Justice, said Jackson’s new buffer-zone ordinance for the abortion clinic violates his clients’ freedom of speech. “Our clients are pro-life sidewalk advocates. They care deeply about this issue.”

Pinkhouse Defenders are the opposition for the issue. Kim Gibson is one of them, saying “there is no such thing as sidewalk counseling or sidewalk advocacy."

Rice went on to say that the ordinance “prohibits speech about abortion, but it does not prohibit speech about other topics. It prohibits our clients from engaging in speech about abortion near the clinic but it does not prohibit people from engaging in those same conversations including abortion clinic employees and their agents.”

The ordinance was put in place October 1. The pro-lifers, both loud and peaceful, must stand back at least 15 feet from the entrance or they will be fined.

Pro-life speaker Barbara Beavers has joined the suit and said, “Many women come to the sidewalks undecided about what they’re going to do. We need to be there to offer alternatives to what they will receive when they go in there."

Though Beavers is a peaceful protester, Gibson believes the clinic provides the proper, unbiased information the patients’ need.

“Those people are uninvited to people’s health care decisions," said Gibson. "They are strangers on the sidewalk that are there to offer uninvited comments on people’s health care decisions. They do not offer unbiased information, they do not offer medical help.”

That lawsuit was filed in Hinds County Circuit Court.

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