A lawsuit New York state brought against a Christian pro-life activist who was accused of threatening patients and staff outside an abortion clinic in New York City was dropped earlier this week.
New York Attorney General Letitia James ended a lawsuit leveled in 2017 against Scott Fitchett Jr., one of about a dozen activists from local churches and the community who regularly protest outside the Choices Women's Medical Center in Queens.
The Liberty Counsel, which represented Fitchett, released a statement Monday explaining that while the attorney general has continued an appeal against the group of activists, she “informed the appellate court that the appeal is abandoned as to Fitchett.”
Roger Gannam, Liberty Counsel’s assistant vice president of Legal Affairs, explained that it “was clear the Attorney General could prove no wrongdoing against Scott Fitchett, and never should have filed a lawsuit against him.”
“Perhaps the new attorney general has realized that Scott Fitchett not only has a constitutional right to speak on New York’s public sidewalks, but will not bow down to the state’s pro-abortion bullying and intimidation,” said Gannam in a statement.
In June 2017, then state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a complaint against Fitchett and other pro-life demonstrators in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Schneiderman’s lawsuit accused the pro-life protesters of engaging in “a weekly pattern of threatening, obstructive, and violent activity” at the Women’s Medical Center.
“Since 2012, protesters have subjected incoming patients to a barrage of unwanted physical contact, as well as verbal abuse, threats of harm, and lies about the clinic’s hours and its services,” read the complaint.
“Protesters descend on approaching patients to harangue them, sometimes pinning them against the clinic’s exterior wall or parking meters, and even forcing them into the street and oncoming traffic as they try to escape the protesters. Some protesters go so far as to touch or grab at patients to get their attention and force printed anti-choice materials on them.”
In July 2018, District Court Judge Carol Bagley Amon denied the state a preliminary injunction against the pro-life activists, with New York appealing the denial to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Ironically, Schneiderman, who accused the protesters of “unwanted physical contact,” later resigned in 2018 following revelations that he engaged in sexually violent behavior, specifically choking, against four women.
In addition to the Liberty Counsel representing Fitchett, the Thomas More Society stepped in to represent the defendants who belonged to the Brooklyn-based Church at the Rock.
Andrew Bath of the Thomas More Society said in a statement in 2017 that the lawsuit was unfounded, as the activists "peacefully" counsel women considering an abortion.
"They conduct themselves reasonably and compassionately and offer information about abortion alternatives to those willing to listen," said Bath at the time.
"This is the exercise of their core First Amendment rights and is an activity that takes place on the public sidewalk, the traditional venue for expression concerning important ideas and societal issues.