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Clinic bill suppresses free speech

I would like to applaud City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) for speaking out against Intro. 826, aka the Clinic Access Bill. This bill was passed on April 2, but opposed by several council members. This bill allows police to arrest protesters if they are considered too close to an abortion clinic. Avella has called it what it is: a freedom of speech issue.

I would also like to praise Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria), who also got it right by saying, “This new law is not about protecting clinics. It’s about stopping protests.”

It seems our democratic rights are being slowly stripped away by groups that have different opinions. Intro. 826 goes too far. It unconstitutionally infringes on the First Amendment right to free speech. This bill would deny the free speech rights of people seeking to provide information to women entering clinics out of fear of arrest or a civil suit based on an ambiguous law.

It is an established principle of constitutional law that any prohibition of speech must be clearly defined and strictly limited, especially when the speech occurs in a public forum, like city sidewalks.

Finally, this bill is unfair to ordinary citizens who wish to express their basic constitutional rights. There is no doubt this legislation is designed to suppress pro−life speech because influential pro−abortion interest groups and profitable abortion clinics consider that free speech unacceptable.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.

Glen Oaks Village

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