Harrisburg Loses Again on Abortion Buffer Zone Law

Jun 29, 2017

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied the City of Harrisburg's request to rehear the case brought by Liberty Counsel's pro-life clients, Colleen Reilly and Becky Biter, in their lawsuit against a Harrisburg, PA ordinance which created unconstitutional “buffer zones” that silence pro-life speech on public sidewalks around abortion clinics.

The court also amended its original opinion to clarify that the Liberty Counsel plaintiffs need only show they are being harmed by restrictions on their protected free speech, and then the burden shifts to the City to justify its law. If the City cannot meet the Constitution’s high bar by proving that restricting the peaceful speech of Liberty Counsel’s clients is actually necessary, then the plaintiffs are entitled to an injunction blocking the buffer zone law. This clarification is also a setback for the City of Harrisburg’s abortion buffer zone law.

Reilly and Biter regularly engage in peaceful counseling on public sidewalks around Harrisburg’s two abortion clinics. They have been harassed and intimated by clinic staff and the local police since the City enacted the ordinance, which was drafted and pushed by Planned Parenthood. This unconstitutional ordinance purports to expel pro-life speakers from public property and pushes pro-life counselors sometimes 50 feet to more than 70 feet away from the women they are attempting to help.

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