October 31, 2019
Sidewalk Advocates for Life supports the four individual members of Sidewalk Advocates for Life – Jackson, Mississippi who have announced a challenge to the new Jackson city buffer and bubble zone ordinance.
Sidewalk Advocates for Life opposes all buffer zone regulations as they violate our peaceful volunteers’ First Amendment rights and serve as viewpoint discrimination, noting that any public concerns about unlawful conduct in front of an abortion facility can be addressed by enforcing existing laws already on the books.
The Jackson, Mississippi ordinance prohibits volunteers from approaching within eight feet of any person without consent, for the purpose of engaging in counseling, education, distributing leaflets, or other similar speech. It also bans volunteers from congregating within fifteen feet of the abortion facility.
Violations of the new ordinance could result in fines of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.
All Sidewalk Advocates for Life volunteers sign a pledge of integrity to emphasize their commitment to abide by the law on the sidewalk and conduct their outreach peacefully. The volunteers will maintain a presence in Jackson, and will make any necessary adjustments to their locations to comply with the law.
Similar regulations have been overturned in federal courts across the country, with the Supreme Court itself striking down many of these unnecessarily restrictive buffer and bubble zones throughout the years.
While this issue will likely be resolved after much time and many resources have been exhausted in court, the real cost is to the women served by the Jackson Sidewalk Advocates for Life.
While the new Jackson ordinance is directed towards protesters, it is written so broadly as to affect a variety of free speech, including the outreach of charitable organizations who offer free services such as pregnancy tests and ultrasounds like the Jackson Sidewalk Advocates.
In the past five years, Sidewalk Advocates for Life has trained thousands of volunteers to go to abortion facilities to simply offer loving, life-affirming alternatives to abortion. In that time, nearly 7,000 women and families have freely chosen our help and given life to their children, relieved that someone was there to offer them other choices – and that number is growing every day.
“Women regularly accept our offer to help in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy,” said Pam Miller, Co-Leader of Sidewalk Advocates for Life – Jackson, Mississippi. “In fact, in partnership with other peaceful community members, more women than ever — at least 30 this year alone — have opted to take advantage of the free, alternative resources the Jackson community provides. We are committed to connecting women with the loving, life-affirming assistance they deserve, and we will continue to serve the women of Mississippi in a peaceful and law-abiding way.”
The lawsuit was filed with the Mississippi Justice Institute in Hinds County Circuit Court. A copy of the complaint can be found here.
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