Boston, Mass., Jun 23, 2023 / 08:15 am
A sidewalk counselor from New York will soon ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case against Westchester County, which passed a law following the fall of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 that bars pro-life advocates from offering women alternatives to abortion within 100 feet from a clinic.
Similar laws are being pushed across the nation and in different countries in an attempt to stop women considering abortion from encountering sidewalk counselors from explaining the harms of abortion and the multitude of resources available for pregnancy and post-pregnancy.
Represented by Becket, a nonprofit public-interest legal and educational institute dedicated to protecting the free expression of all faiths, Debra Vitagliano, a 64-year-old mother of three, brought the suit against Westchester County, where she lived when she was training to be a sidewalk counselor in 2022. When she finished her training, the county had already passed the law and she was barred from counseling women considering abortion outside the clinics.
The Westchester County “bubble zone law” holds misdemeanor penalties of up to a $5,000 fine and one year jail time.