Pro-Life Group Wins Ala. Sidewalk Counseling Case

A state judge threw out an injunction, allowing pro-life advocates in Birmingham to now gather on the sidewalk of an Alabama abortion clinic without fear of arrest.

On Thursday, the Life Legal Defense Foundation confirmed that the case for a state injunction prohibiting pro-life protesters from gathering on the front sidewalk of New Woman, All Women abortion clinic was dismissed.

The case was centered on a 13-year-old dispute between the clinic and activist group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust. NWAW’s recent efforts for a state injunction were blocked by a federal injunction LLDF secured in 2010.

The fight is over and pro-life advocates have won, says LLDF Executive Director Dana Cody.

“[The clinic is] going to have to get used to the fact that there is going to be pro-life people on the street,” Cody said during a telephone interview.

The Survivors are a California-based Christian group that trains advocates in pro-life apologetics and sidewalk counseling. The group, founded by long-time advocate Jeff White, regularly prays for and counsels pregnant women on their way to abortion clinics.

NWAW posted a sign outside of its clinic 13 years ago to bar protesters from standing on the front sidewalk to the clinic. Cody said the sign was successful at intimidating groups into keeping their protests across the street. However, trained Survivors advocates began asserting their rights and began conducting their activities right outside the clinic.

The result was what Cody called a snowball effect. “When people saw Jeff White and the survivors going out there, more and more go out there,” she described.

The Survivors group was arrested in February 2009 by local police and later charged erroneously with trespass violations.

After being arrested, the group, represented by LLDF attorneys, sued and received a federal injunction in October of last year prohibiting the Birmingham police from interfering with their free speech activities.

A month later, NWAW tried to fight back, suing for an injunction of its own. Circuit Court Judge Edward Ramsey issued a temporary restraining order against the Survivors and White. The temporary restraining order was overturned in mid-October by Birmingham attorney Trenton Garmon with the support of LLDF.

On Tuesday, Judge Ramsey announced he has dismissed NWAW’s case. Ramsey explained in the order of dismissal that jurisdiction belongs to the federal court. This week's ruling quashed any hope of victory for NWAW in state court, LLDF contends.

Garmon pronounced the verdict as victory for all pro-lifers in a statement Thursday. "This is America; pro-life citizens have the right to stand on the public sidewalk and freely speak in opposition to abortion, and they will," he proclaimed.

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