The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a claim that anti-abortion activists have a legal right to provide “sidewalk counseling” outside women’s reproductive health clinics. The Appeals Court determined that the plaintiffs failed to show a FACE violation. Plaintiffs argued that their “counseling” activities were protected under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). Attorney for the Defendants Michael Spotts called the claim “ridiculous” saying that the plaintiffs were changing the intent of FACE to legally harass women. The FACE Act, passed in 1994, is intended to protect clinics and women seeking abortions by prohibiting anti-abortion protestors from blocking abortion clinic entrances or injuring or intimidating staff or patients at abortion clinics. The case is Lotierzo, et al. v. A Woman’s World, et al.
In 1999, the anti-choice Pregnancy Care Center opened across the street from A Woman’s World Clinic in Fort Pierce, Florida. Thomas J. Euteneuer, one of the plaintiffs in Lotierzo, et al. v. A Woman’s World, et al. and now the President of Human Life International, was on the board of directors. Volunteers from the Pregnancy Care Center would approach women on the sidewalks and access way to A Woman’s World to promote their anti-abortion agenda, causing many altercations.
In the same opinion, however, the Eleventh Circuit allowed Euteneur to proceed with a lawsuit in which he claims that a clinic staff member, Hazel Harding, threatened his life. Euteneur alleges that Harding made the threat in order to intimidate him from performing anti-abortion activities.
Media Resources: Miami Herald, 1/9/02; MSNBC.com, 1/8/02; Eleventh Circuit Court Opinion, Lotierzo, et al. v. A Woman’s World, et al.; Feminist Majority Foundation