Maine sues anti-abortion protester, claiming he shouts too loud

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 3:17 PM

By Dave Sherwood

BRUNSWICK, Maine (Reuters) - Maine's top attorney on Tuesday filed a civil rights lawsuit against an anti-abortion protester, contending that his yelling outside a Portland Planned Parenthood clinic was so loud that it disrupted the staff's ability to counsel patients inside.

The lawsuit, filed in Maine's Superior Court by Attorney General Janet Mills, alleges that Brian Ingalls, 26, who shouts about "murdering babies, aborted babies' blood and Jesus," violated the state's Civil Rights Act because he was audible inside the facility.

"All patients have the right to receive medical services free of 'the cacophony of political protests,' in the words of the United States Supreme Court," Mills, a Democrat, said in a statement. "While protesters have every right to say anything they want in a public area in the vicinity of a medical facility, they are not permitted to disrupt another citizen's healthcare services."

Maine law protects the right of any person to receive "safe and effective" medical services without disruptions caused by loud noises.

According to the complaint, police warned Ingalls to keep his voice down so that he would not be heard inside, but he continued yelling anyway.

The lawsuit would prevent Ingalls, a regular protester at the clinic, from coming within 50 feet (15 m) of the facility.

Ingalls, of Lisbon, was not immediately available for comment.

Planned Parenthood's abortion clinics have increasingly become the target of political attacks by conservative leaders following allegations the U.S. reproductive health organization sells aborted fetal tissue to researchers.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina and other Republican U.S. presidential candidates have generally called for defunding Planned Parenthood, while Democratic hopefuls have supported the family planning organization.

Portland's Democratic-controlled City Council created a 39-foot (12 m) no-protest zone in 2013 around the city's sole Planned Parenthood clinic after rowdy protests, but was forced to repeal the ordinance last month after it was found unconstitutional by a federal court.

(Editing by Scott Malone, G Crosse)