The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a federal lawsuit against Westchester County, NY, after the county barred a pro-life sidewalk counselor from peacefully engaging with women considering abortion.

According to the case, Debra Vitagliano, an occupational therapist and devout Catholic, was prevented from sidewalk counseling by a county law that creates a 100-foot “buffer zone” around abortion clinics in the Westchester area.

Vitagliano had just completed training to begin sidewalk counseling when the law took effect. Not only is it illegal to be within the buffer zone, but also to be within eight feet of any person already in the zone, effectively making it impossible for counselors to offer resources to women in need.

According to the Becket Fund, the law violates the First Amendment which “protects the right to a free and peaceful exchange of ideas, which includes an individual’s ability to have personal conversations about matters of public concern in public places.”

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Following the aftermath of the leak of the Dobbs decision that reversed Roe v. Wade, abortion advocates have been relentlessly seeking new ways to increase abortion access and prevent the pro-life movement from providing assistance to women in crisis.

“The creation of these so-called ‘buffer zones’ is really just another confirmation that the abortion industry has no concern for women’s wellbeing,” said CatholicVote’s Communications Director Josh Mercer. “They know the effectiveness of sidewalk counseling and the pro-life witness in saving lives… and that means less business for them.”

LifeNews Note: Jessica Nardi writes for CatholicVote, where this column originally appeared.

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