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The city of Jackson has repealed their unconstitutional buffer zone ordinance that restricted free speech outside abortion clinics. That was the right move.

Last year, Mississippi Justice Institute and members of Sidewalk Advocates for Life – Jackson, Mississippi launched a constitutional challenge to Jackson’s prohibition on pro-life counseling and other free speech outside the state’s only abortion facility.

The old ordinance banned individuals who are near health facilities from approaching within eight feet of any person without consent, for the purpose of engaging in various forms of speech such as counseling, education, or distributing leaflets; bans people from congregating or demonstrating within 15 feet of the abortion facility, and bans any amplified sound. Violations of the ordinance could have resulted in fines of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.

Most of the attention on the lawsuit centers around the abortion debate, and this is often seen as a proxy on whether you support or oppose abortion rights.

While that is an important issue, this case has larger consequences as well.

This was a question of if the government could restrict speech they didn’t like. Our answer is no, they absolutely cannot. Our clients are engaging in quintessential free speech, and they are doing so peacefully and respectfully. They care deeply for the unborn and feel morally led to offer life-affirming alternatives to people entering an abortion facility. In just this year alone, they have led at least 30 women to take advantage of the free, alternative resources the Jackson community provides.

At the Mississippi Justice Institute, we have always stood for freedom of speech. We recognize that you have the right to express your views and to try to convince others to adopt those views. That is the very meaning of a free society.

And that is why we were proud to stand with the Sidewalk Advocates and are thankful for the city’s most recent actions.

This is another huge win for freedom in Mississippi, and one of multiple cases where we have successfully secured victory for our clients this year alone. As a non-profit, we need every passionate defender of liberty to join us in this fight. If you liked this case’s outcome and want to see more like it, then please consider a donation to support our work!

Aaron Rice
Director, Mississippi Justice Institute is an online news site serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.


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