Supreme Court Allows Ban on 'Gruesome' Abortion Images that May Disturb Children

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday to not review the case of Scott v. Saint John's Church in the Wilderness, a case that involved a lower court banning display of explicit abortion images from being shown where children are likely to view them.

The New York Times recalled that the case originated from a 2005 pro-life outdoor protest on Palm Sunday at an Episcopal church in Denver. The protestors were apparently unhappy with the church's pro-abortion stance, and protested by showing large pictures of aborted fetuses, upsetting some of the 200 children who were present.

After the church sued Kenneth T. Scott, one of the people behind the protest, the Colorado Court of Appeals placed a ban on "displaying large posters or similar displays depicting gruesome images of mutilated fetuses or dead bodies in a manner reasonably likely to be viewed by children under 12."

The Court's position read: "Scott's voice was so loud that it substantially interfered with the outdoor services; the volume and nature of the demonstration, together with the graphic and gory nature of defendants' posters, caused several of those attending services to show 'crying, trembling, fear, and anger'; children present were frightened by defendants' posters; and because of defendants ' actions, 85 to 100 parishioners declined to participate in a second outdoor service."

St. John's Church in the Wilderness has said that it had no interest in suppressing the pro-life message, but wanted to make sure its parishioners are allowed to pray and worship in peace.

"The congregation could not pray and participate meaningfully in the Palm Sunday service without being forced to view gruesome images," the brief said.

The Colorado Court added that its decision was not meant to suppress "Scott's" speech because of its content, saying that there was a "compelling government interest in protecting children from disturbing images."

In March, the Thomas More Society petitioned the Supreme Court in hopes that it would decide to review the case. The non-profit group, which often deals with Christian cases, had Professor Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law School, a 1st Amendment legal scholar and author, draft the document sent to the Supreme Court, which argued that the ban on "'gruesome images' silences speech that is critical to the pro-life message as 'pictures … convey messages in ways that words cannot equal.'"

The petition recalls several cases in the civil rights movement that showcased horrific abuse done on African Americans, where photos of mutilated bodies were widely spread throughout the media and ignited nationwide outrage.

Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of Thomas More Society, had expressed hopes that the Supreme Court would decide to review the case, which he said shows "persistent efforts by government officials to wield the censor's scissors to suppress vital pro-life speech."

"Photos are anathema to pro-abortion advocates because they expose the grim truth that abortion is both repulsive and grisly. If America insists on abortion rights, it must face up to these ugly results," Brejcha continued.

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