Editorial Voices Support for Maine Lawsuit Against Disruptive Antiabortion-Rights Protester

November 16, 2015 — A Morning Sentinel/Kennebec Journal editorial applauds "the state's decision to sue a Lisbon man for his recent high-volume anti-abortion protests outside Planned Parenthood in Portland," noting, "Those who oppose abortion have the right to make their case -- but not when doing so crosses the line from free expression to disruption."

According to the editorial, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills (D) states that the protester, Brian Ingalls, protested so loudly that "he could be heard inside Planned Parenthood's second-floor counseling and examination rooms." The lawsuit states that Ingalls' actions demonstrate "his intent to interfere with the safe and effective delivery of health services at Planned Parenthood." Noting that such actions violate the Maine Civil Rights Act, Mills "request[s] that Cumberland County Superior Court bar Ingalls from coming within 50 feet" of the clinic.

The editorial notes, "[W]hen they're occupying a public space ... critics of abortion have plenty of ways to make their views known," but "[w]hat they can't do is bring their opinions into a private space -- such as a medical examination room." The editorial explains, "In this case, the din reportedly made it harder for health-care workers to communicate with patients in consultation rooms, which can, in turn, keep patients from taking in the information they need to make good health decisions." Further, the editorial notes, "excessive noise activates the hormones that are part of our bodies' fight-or-flight response, thus aggravating the stress many of us already feel at the doctor's office."

The editorial argues that while antiabortion-rights protestors have the right to speak their opinions, "they're not allowed to do it in a way that keeps those inside Planned Parenthood from obtaining care," concluding, "That's the real constitutional violation, and that's what Maine's attorney general is, justifiably, taking action to prevent" (Morning Sentinel/Kennebec Journal, 11/14).