New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a federal lawsuit against two pro-life advocates who participate in nearly weekly prayer and protesting sessions at the Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood Center (MSPPC) location in Manhattan.
Bevelyn Beatty and Edmee Chavannes are outspoken advocates for life and made headlines in early 2020 after they “allegedly violated Mayor Bill de Blasio’s coronavirus-related social distancing guidelines” by praying outside the city’s Planned Parenthood location.
Now, the state is taking its case against the women a step further. This week, New York Attorney General James filed a federal lawsuit against the two women for “blocking access to a Planned Parenthood clinic and harassing patients and staffers.”
“For almost 50 years, Roe v. Wade has made clear the right of women to control their own bodies,” James said in a statement. “Despite the clear protections under the law, these individuals used violent and illegal tactics to harass, threaten, and block women from entering Planned Parenthood.”
According to the official 19-page complaint, the state wants to bring to an end “the obstructive, threatening, harassing, and violent activity by the Defendants, Beatty and Chavannes, at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s Manhattan Health Center and prevent Defendants from engaging in these unlawful activities in the future.”
The state goes on to detail that the women started protesting on Fridays, before moving to Saturdays and would show up at 7 a.m. and leave at around 11 a.m.
“On these occasions, one of the Defendants would typically stand right at the door to the Center, inches away from a volunteer escort who was responsible for opening the door, and the other would follow patients and staff and yell at them at close range as they passed by. Defendants also pounded on and screamed through the glass windows after patients went inside.”
But looking through the 19-page complaint, it becomes clear that it’s not just about the women representing the pro-life cause that’s an issue, but the fact that they may be doing so without a mask.
“Although Defendants stopped coming to the Center for a few weeks in January and February, they resumed their activities in March 2020, during the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. At that point, their behavior became even more intimidating and disruptive, as Defendants’ conduct presents a direct risk to the health and safety of patients and staff…
“Rather than comply with these (COVID) orders, Defendants have instead weaponized the threat of the virus to further intimidate and interfere with the Center’s operations.”
To help stress the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on “New Yorkers,” the Attorney General points out that it has killed “more than ten times the number killed in 9/11.”
Some of the additional allegations against Beatty and Chavannes include supposedly slamming a staff members hand in a door, requiring x-rays; shoving a volunteer; “slapping a different volunteer in the face; and threatening to knock an escort unconscious.” And, in what the state seemingly considers the most disturbing aspect, “screamed threats in a staff member’s face while maskless.”
The Attorney General wants to prevent Beatty and Chavannes and “those acting in concert with them, from physically obstructing anyone entering the Center; using force against anyone entering or leaving the Center; yelling or shouting into the Center or banging on its windows; threatening anyone entering or leaving the Center; refusing to comply with Executive Order 202.17 or other applicable order while protesting outside the Center; and entering a buffer zone around the entrance to the Center, identical to that which was established in New York ex rel. Spitzer v. Cain.”
It’s entirely possible that either some or all of these allegations are correct, but it’s also equally plausible that they’re an exaggeration aimed at preventing passionate pro-life advocates from offering help to vulnerable women seeking an abortion in Manhattan. Frighteningly, if this case is allowed to continue, it’s possible that abortion activists across the country will use this lawsuit to pursue legal action against any sidewalk advocate who’s there to offer prayer and support to women.
At this point, Beatty and Chavannes have yet to respond to the lawsuit. The Daily Citizen will continue to monitor this story.