A federal judge in New York on Friday struck down a lawsuit filed by former state attorney general Eric Schneiderman against a coalition of Christian pro-lifers who had been accused of harassing patients, staff and family members outside an abortion clinic in New York City for years.
The lawsuit, filed in June 2017, charged 14 pro-life sidewalk counselors with “a weekly pattern of threatening, obstructive and violent activity” at the Choices Women’s Medical Center in Queens, “every Saturday morning for at least five years” and sought a permanent injunction, compensatory damages and additional monetary fines against the advocates.
“The interactions on the sidewalk outside Choices were generally quite short, and there is no credible evidence that any protester disregarded repeated requests to be left alone over an extended period or changed his or her tone or message in response to requests to be left alone in a way that suggested an intent to harass, annoy, or alarm,” wrote Judge Carol Bagley Amon in her decision.
“The OAG [Office of the Attorney General] has failed to show that any defendant had the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm a patient, companion, or escort; thus, it has failed to show that any defendant has violated NYCCAA [the New York City Clinic Access Act], as interpreted by the OAG.”
Schneiderman, who resigned in May in the wake of an explosive report four women accused him of physical abuse, asserted that the advocates were disseminating false information.
Attorneys with the Thomas More Society praised the decision.
“We believe the court had clear recognition of what was happening in this case: The former attorney general, whose support of the abortion lobby is well-documented, was pushing a narrative not supported by the evidence," wrote Thomas More special counsel Martin Cannon. The case was an abuse of the rights of peaceful New York citizens, whose rights Mr. Schneiderman had a duty to protect, not attack.”
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