Queens, New York multimillionaire abortionist Merle Hoffman testified a few days ago in an ongoing federal lawsuit, claiming that pro-life advocates who protest and offer sidewalk counseling outside her abortion clinic are conducting a “type of terrorism,” even calling them the “American Taliban.”
“We expect to be vindicated. As a voice for the unborn, we are committed to raising awareness about the over 3,500 children who are being murdered every day here in America,” said Kenneth Griepp, pastor of Church at the Rock, a defendant in the case, People v. Griepp et al, now being heard in federal court in New York. “We do so as peaceful people of God. Because the Thomas More Society attorneys understand that, they are able to defend us and protect the rights we are guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment, including the freedom to speak out against what we believe to be the grave error of abortion and to offer life-saving alternatives to women and their children.”
The case is a result of a federal harassment lawsuit brought against Griepp and other pro-lifers by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, an intense supporter of the abortion industry. Schneiderman is using the power and financial resources of the state government of New York to put his personal dislike of pro-lifers into effect. At issue is whether sidewalk counseling is protected free speech.
Abortionist Hoffman told the court during her testimony that the religious beliefs of the pro-lifers constitues “misogyny and fundamentalism,” and that they are “bullies.”
Forbes called her the “millionaire abortionist” in its profile of Hoffman a few years ago. She has operated the Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica-Queens, New York since 1971 (two years before the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which declared obtaining an abortion was a “constitutional right” that was hidden in the shadows of the Bill of Rights). It is estimated that her clinic sees about 50,000 women each year, generating around $10 million per year in revenue.
The defendants in the case are being represented by the Thomas More Society. The More Society's attorney, Martin Cannon, defended the free speech rights of his pro-life clients. “The rights we are guaranteed under the United States Constitution and First Amendment are on trial here. Pro-life speech is protected speech, regardless of the New York Attorney General’s personal opinions about abortion.”
Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, certainly is not hesitant to publicly proclaim his advocacy of abortion, saying he was “proud” to have filed an amicus brief against a law in Ohio that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. (An amicus brief is when individuals or groups file a legal brief for a court, even though they are not actual parties to the case.) “When I was 17,” Schneiderman said last year, “I graduated from high school — but I didn’t go straight to college. Instead, I went to work at an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C. — the year before Roe v Wade.”
Now that he is the attorney general of New York, he can use taxpayer resources to intimidate and attempt to prevent even peaceful protesting outside of abortion clinics as harassment, to advance those pro-abortion views. He has called the protesters' activities “horrifying” and “illegal.”
Interestingly, the judge in the case, Carol Bagley Amon, appears to consider such protesting not as harassment, but rather as a form of protected free speech. Sandra Pullman, an assistant attorney general in New York, argued that harassment should be interpreted with the focus on the reaction of a person to another person’s action. But the judge said that handing out pamphlets is just free speech, and that sidewalks are a “quintessential public forum.” Judge Amon specifically rejected the argument that “annoying behavior” is a standard that should be used to shut down speech, telling the state’s lawyers that under that standard, “I could sue all of you here today.”
Cannon, the attorney for the defendants, made his own arguments in defense of free speech. “If harassment is defined by someone’s reaction, you can’t know you’ve committed the offense until after the fact. If harassment is whatever people in power say it is, we are protected only by sentiment, not by law.”
This seems to be the essence of this case. The principle of a republican form of government involves the rule of law, not the rule of man. The personal views of a public official — in this case, the pro-abortion beliefs of New York’s attorney general — should not have anything to do with the actions of his office. Rather, like every single public official in America, he is obligated to follow the Constitution of the United States, not use the power of his office to implement through a state-sponsored lawsuit his own personal whims.
The abortionist in this case, who has become a very wealthy woman by supervising the killing of thousands of unborn babies, certainly has every right to call pro-lifers Taliban and misogynists. What she does not have the right to do is use the power of the state to force her views on individuals who are simply exercising their rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.
A decision in the case is expected to be reached soon.