On June 27th, a federal judge ruled in favor of a sidewalk counselor in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In April, Allentown Women’s Center, an abortion facility committing abortions up to 23 weeks, filed a lawsuit against Mark Bogunovich and two other sidewalk counselors for allegedly “threatening, harassing, and insulting employees” and for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act that prohibits physical obstruction or threat of obstruction of abortion facility entrances. The Morning Call reported, “U.S. District Judge Chad F. Kenney denied a request by Allentown Women’s Center to ban him from the street outside the clinic while the court determines if he and another demonstrator have violated a federal law against impeding access to reproductive health care.” In addition, the judge is considering removing Bogunovich from the case altogether, and “did not find Bogunovich’s efforts to briefly contact women in their cars constituted a violation of the Free Access to Clinic Entrances…..” The judge did not address charges against a second individual in the suit.
Bogunovich, who has prayed and counseled outside of the clinic since 2011, was represented by the Thomas More Society. His attorney spoke about the case in an emailed press release:
The complaint was driven by the Allentown Women’s Center desire to cleanse its entrances of pro-life speech by asking the court to impose a 25-foot buffer zone on each side of the clinic’s entrances. Of course, the effect of that would be to destroy the ability of pro-life counselors to communicate effectively with abortion minded women through passing literature to them and oral counseling and education. The Complaint is a rather brazen attempt to use the FACE Act to abridge First Amendment rights.
The Thomas More Society also noted that this suit isn’t the first from the facility, but is “the latest in a long-running series of legal actions by the abortion center against pro-life advocates….” TMS notes that ‘in 2014, the abortion facility supported discriminatory permit requirements that resulted in a lawsuit over violation of the First Amendment rights of the sidewalk counselors. That resulted in a resolution affirming the rights of pro-lifers to stand on the public right of way at the clinic.”
The facility likely commits D&E abortions in the second trimester, a brutal procedure you can see in the medically animated video below, narrated by former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino:
Ever since the FACE Act became law in 1994, abortion facilities have attempted to use it to create “buffer zones” or “bubble zones” that establish a certain distance pro-lifers must stand from physical abortion facilities or from facility staff or clients. Elsewhere in the state, as Live Action News reported earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge ruled for the second time in favor of a buffer zone law in the city of Harrisburg. That decision is being appealed by two pro-lifers represented by Liberty Counsel, and is the latest installment of what has become a years-long legal battle.
The Allentown area is no stranger to pro-life/pro-choice controversy. In 2017, Parkland High School in Allentown denied a student’s request to start a pro-life club because “it was too controversial and too political at the time.” The pro-life student, represented by the Thomas More Society, filed a lawsuit against the school district which was settled out of court. The pro-life club was allowed to form.
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