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City Backs Off Arrest Threats Against Prolife Sidewalk Counselors

Contact: Liberty Counsel Public Relations Department, 800-671-1776


ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla., Jan. 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- Women seeking abortions will again have access to information about adoption and other safer alternatives to abortion since prolife advocates can now peacefully gather near the All Women's Health Center of Orlando abortion clinic located in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Altamonte Springs police officers had threatened to arrest prolife sidewalk counselors until Liberty Counsel intervened on behalf of two local residents, Patte Smith with Sanctuary Ministries, and David Risler.


On two occasions, Altamonte Springs police officers responded to complaints from an abortion clinic administrator by threatening the sidewalk counselors with citation and arrest. Officers had threatened sidewalk counselors by citing to vague city sign and noise ordinances. The sidewalk counselors were standing on public sidewalks at the clinic and on adjacent private property with the owner's permission. They were talking about abortion and offering women assistance and alternatives to abortion, and some counselors held signs.


On the day that Liberty Counsel issued a demand letter to the City of Altamonte Springs, the City Manager assured Liberty Counsel that sidewalk counselors would not be arrested for talking to those entering the abortion clinic. City police officers will also be instructed about the constitutionally-protected right to freedom of speech.


The abortion clinic refuses to reveal to the inquiring public the doctors who perform abortions at the facility. Calls for information (888-878-3304) are met with stonewall responses. When asked how can a prospective patient determine whether the physician is reputable prior to making a decision about abortion, the facility representative responds by saying the identity or other information about the doctors cannot be given.


Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, argued to case of Madsen v. Women's Health Center before the United States Supreme Court in 1994. In Madsen, the Court struck down 300-foot buffer zones around a Melbourne, Florida abortion clinic and clinic staff, invalidated requirements to obtain consent before speaking to people approaching the clinic, and a removed a ban on images that were observable inside the clinic. Staver commented: "The constitution protects the right of individuals to peacefully gather and express their opinions. Women have a right to receive information about the medical risks associated with abortion and the many life-saving alternatives available to pregnant women."