Pro-lifers in Iowa won a small victory when a federal judge ruled that the state could not make a law preventing them from reading scripture outside abortion clinics.
Pro-life advocates Anthony Miano and Nicholas Rolland had taken to standing outside a Davenport, Iowa, abortion clinic and preaching to those entering and leaving the facility. But the state passed a law in 2018 that outlawed their activities.
The law prohibits “loud and raucous noise in the vicinity of any residence or public building which causes unreasonable distress to the occupants thereof,” according to LifeNews.com.
Miano and Rolland took the state to court to vacate the law saying that it violated their freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
But on Sept. 26, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger ruled against the state law. And this month, the judge ordered the state to pay $130,000 for the pair’s legal fees.
The American Center for Law & Justice, the group responsible for helping the couple with their lawsuit, celebrated the ruling saying, “This is an important victory for our clients, for pro-life advocates and the unborn, and for free speech.”
“In essence, these individuals were threatened with a prosecution for engaging in protected speech outside of an abortion clinic,” said ACLJ Director of Policy Professor Harry Hutchison. “We challenged the constitutionality of the Iowa law which makes it a misdemeanor to make a loud and raucous noise in the vicinity of any residence or public building which causes unreasonable distress to the occupants, thereof.”
Judge Ebinger said that the Iowa law was unconstitutionally vague and violated free speech rights.
“Essentially, this law was unconstitutionally vague, and second, dependent on the reaction to third parties,” Hutchinson added. “We’re happy to report that the judge found in favor of our clients on the merits. Essentially the statute was declared unconstitutional.”
Thus far the state has not replied to the ruling.
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