Monday, August 17, 2015

Once again, abortion advocates are enemies of free speech

In response to the Planned Parenthood undercover investigation, abortion advocates have once again shown themselves to be enemies of free speech.

Shortly after the first video made headlines, the National Abortion Federation, an abortionist trade group, and Stem Express, a buyer of fetal remains, each sued the Center for Medical Progress in an attempt to block the release of videos involving meetings with their members/employees. In each case, the judge imposed a temporary restraining order to preserve the status quo until a hearing can take place. (In the meantime, the Center for Medical Progress has been releasing footage involving other abortion workers.)

In the long run, I have no doubt that the Center for Medical Progress will prevail. This is a delay tactic, pure and simple. The judge in the Stem Express case recognized that last week, when she denied Stem Express' request for access to the footage. In her opinion, she noted that, among other things, Stem Express' case falls afoul of "the First Amendment and the parallel protections under the California Constitution."

Stem Express and the National Abortion Federation can surely afford to hire lawyers who know how the First Amendment works. So why do they bother?

Simply put, they are doing it because they don't support freedom of speech, the key value underlying the First Amendment. And they figure that with a little luck, they could find a judge who feels the same way. Their optimism isn't entirely unfounded. In Hill v. Colorado, the pro-abortion members of the Supreme Court upheld what amounted to a ban on sidewalk counseling, First Amendment be damned. Although Hill was undermined somewhat by the Court's subsequent decision in McCullen v. Oakley, pro-life advocates continue to be a frequent target for First Amendment violations. As I wrote in June:
The pro-life movement historically has been on the receiving end of censorship, not dishing it out. (In compiling those links, I've limited myself to the past year.)
The courts usually intervene, but not always.

As a lawyer, I take my ethical responsibilities seriously. As a result, I do not engage in meritless litigation, and I certainly wouldn't advocate a position that violates the First Amendment rights of the opposing party. 

But I have yet to hear a single abortion advocate condemn Stem Express and the National Abortion Federation's lawsuits. RH Reality Check openly encouraged it, without even mentioning free speech concerns.

And why would they? Free speech simply isn't a concern for them. 

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