A jury in Portland, Maine ruled that a pro-life pastor demonstrating outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic broke the law when his shouting became too loud.
Maine’s Civlil Rights Acts makes it a crime to intentionally interfere with a medical procedure at an abortion clinic. The law says that after receiving a warning, it is illegal for a person to attempt to interfere with a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
By a vote of 6-3, a jury of eight men and one woman voted 6-3 that Brian Ingalls of Lewison violated the state’s Civil Rights Act when his preaching could be heard inside the “counseling” rooms at the Portland Planned Parenthood clinic in October 2015.
Though pro-abortion demonstrators could also be heard inside the “counseling” rooms, none of them were warned or arrested.
In May 2016, U.S. District Judge Nancy Torrensen ruled the “intent to interfere” section of the law was an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. But on appeal, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision saying the law does not prohibit normal conversation, but only voices that can be heard inside the building.
The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.
In a video example of Ingalls preaching outside the abortion clinic, he can be seen shouting, “Don’t continue in your sin. Look to Jesus for forgiveness. Look to Jesus for reconciling you to the Father. That way, the Father will actually wrap you in His embrace.”
Legal representation for Ingalls came from the Thomas More Law Center, a pro-life organization headquartered in Illinois.
“For reasons that can only be described as politically motivated, the attorney general has transformed an unverified noise complaint by Planned Parenthood into a civil rights complaint against a young Christian pro-life advocate,” it said in a statement. “The attorney general’s actions in this case are a blatant abuse of her powers to aid the pro-abortion political establishment dominating the City of Portland.”
Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Ingalls should be kept at least 50-feet away from the clinic in the future and fined $5,000 for the violations. But that decision must await another legal challenge to the Civil Rights Act brought by Ingalls’ attorneys.