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NY attorney general ends lawsuit against anti-abortion protesters


New York’s attorney general has ended her lawsuit seeking to stop anti-abortion protesters from dissuading women from entering a reproductive health clinic in the New York City borough of Queens.

According to court papers filed on Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James agreed not to seek damages or civil fines against the 13 defendant protesters, in exchange for their agreeing not to file counterclaims or pursue other legal challenges.

The case had been brought in June 2017 by James’ predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, over alleged harassment near the Choices Women’s Medical Center.

New York accused the protesters of interfering with the rights of abortion providers and patients by crowding women trying to enter the clinic, making death threats against their escorts, and holding posters purportedly of aborted fetuses.

U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon in Brooklyn refused in July 2018 to issue an injunction against the protesters.

A divided federal appeals court in Manhattan set aside that ruling in March 2021, but reversed itself in May without providing a reason, thereby restoring the ruling.

Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, which represented one of the protesters, called the dismissal a “great victory” in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the protester, Scott Fitchett, “did nothing wrong by exercising his First Amendment right to preach the gospel on a public sidewalk.”

James’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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