The state of New Hampshire has agreed to temporarily halt the implementation of a anti-speech zone law pending litigation. A lawsuit, filed by legal group Alliance Defending Freedom and allied attorneys, opposes the New Hampshire law restricting a 25-foot zone of public sidewalk around the entrances of abortion clinics. The legislation is similar to a law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
New Hampshire’s law bans pro-life advocates from speaking to individuals entering abortion clinics, but allows abortion escorts and activists to encourage women to obtain an abortion procedure.
“The government has no sound justification for banning free speech on public sidewalks, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Censorship zones in such places are about as clear a violation of the First Amendment as it gets.”
In a unanimous decision last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down McCullen v. Coakley, a lawsuit ADF and allied attorneys filed in 2008. The ruling affirms that restricted speech zones around abortion clinics violate the free speech rights of pro-life advocates.
In the aftermath of the decision by the nation’s highest court, Portland, Maine repealed its 39-foot zone around abortion clinics. Additional cities across the United States also halted similar buffer zone laws.
New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan signed the controversial measure into law last month. Under S.B. 319-FN, individuals who violate the law will be fined a minimum of $100 and face possible litigation.
“While it’s good that the law has been temporarily suspended, we will continue to work toward ensuring that New Hampshire’s law is permanently halted in light of the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down such laws,” Bowman said.
ADF attorneys contend that the New Hampshire ban cannot stand constitutional scrutiny. Reddy v. Foster, heads to federal district court July 25.