No free speech rights for would-be fathers?
A would-be father in New Mexico is on a legal course to define whether or not men have an right to free speech when it concerns the activity of the women who carry their unborn children. Specifically, if a woman chooses to have an abortion, can they speak out against it publicly? What happens when the free speech rights enshrined in our First Amendment comes into conflict with the manufactured "right to privacy" which legalized abortion?
35 year old Greg Fultz of Alamogordo, New Mexico has paid to put up a billboard stating, "This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!" The billboard has a picture of Fultz with an outline of a baby in his arms.
The woman has taken him to court for harassment and violation of privacy.
...Fultz's attorney argues the order violates his client's free speech rights.
"As distasteful and offensive as the sign may be to some, for over 200 years in this country the First Amendment protects distasteful and offensive speech," Todd Holmes said.
The woman's friends say she had a miscarriage, not an abortion, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal.
Holmes disputes that, saying his case is based on the accuracy of his client's statement.
"My argument is: What Fultz said is the truth," Holmes said.
The woman's lawyer said she had not discussed the pregnancy with her client. But for Ellen Jessen, whether her client had a miscarriage or an abortion is not the point. The central issue is her client's privacy and the fact that the billboard has caused severe emotional distress, Jessen said.
"Her private life is not a matter of public interest," she told the Alamogordo Daily News.
Jessen says her client's ex-boyfriend has crossed the line.
"Nobody is stopping him from talking about father's rights. ... but a person can't invade someone's private life."
In other words, since legalized abortion was born of a "right to privacy", it's also illegal to talk about someone having one? And what about the fact that there are obviously two people involved in the creation of the baby. Are we to just accept that once a man fathers one, he not only has no control over whether a woman chooses to abort it, he can't even talk publicly about the decision?
And pay no mind to the fact that the billboard in question doesn't even name the woman in question...
For his part, Holmes invoked the U.S. Supreme Court decision from earlier this year concerning the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its anti-gay protests at military funerals and other high-profile events. He believes the high court's decision to allow the protests, as hurtful as they are, is grounds for his client to put up the abortion billboard.
"Very unpopular offensive speech," he told the Alamogordo Daily News. "The Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, said that is protected speech."
Holmes says he is going to fight the order to remove the billboard through a District Court appeal.
It will be interesting to see whether the courts decide to defend "free speech" or "privacy". It seems pretty obvious where our Founding Fathers would have come down on that question...especially since they actually included the right to free speech in our Constitution.