Anti Abortionists Suing Grants Pass City for Violation of Freedom of Speech

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — An anti-abortion street preacher lawsuit against Grants Pass City that began in 2020 finally went to trial this week. The anti-abortion group, known as Abolish Abortion Oregon (AAO), is suing the city for violating their freedom of speech, and what they claim is ‘years of harassment.’

AAO engages in protesting abortion at city events, sometimes using graphic signs and megaphones to make their voices heard. They also protest outside the Grants Pass Planned Parenthood office.

The organization claims that Grants Pass police have threatened to arrest their members, citing individuals for minor offenses such as sitting on a sidewalk. The AAO says the police have even threatened to report its members to their employers.


Police Wielded Laws Like a Billy Club

On Monday, AAO attorney Ray Hacke told the U.S. District Court in Medford that Grants Pass police wielded the law like a Billy Club.

Hacke has represented several other plaintiffs in lawsuits over similar complaints against Grants Pass School District and Josephine County, including two teachers advocating to limit transgender student rights in the controversial ‘I Resolve’ case. When dismissing that case, the judge said, ‘the school district’s need to protect students outweighed teachers’ rights to comment on public matters.’

The case was brought by teachers, Rachel Sager and Katie Medart who are trying to appeal their case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Explaining police action at Monday’s AAO hearing, Grants Pass lawyer Robert Franz said the police were not restricting the organization’s freedom of speech but were acting in response to complaints about the noise from businesses situated close to the scene. Franz pointed out that the police would have arrested members of the AAO if they had wanted to silence the protesters.

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