NY attorney general sues anti-abortion protesters

Choices founder Merle Hoffman in the 1970s

"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".

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against anti-abortion groups that harass patients at an abortion clinic, he announced Tuesday.

"The tactics used to harass and menace Choices' patients, families, volunteers, and staff are not only horrifying, they're illegal", Schneiderman said.

Protestors have allegedly pushed patients into the clinic's exterior wall, blocked vehicle doors from opening, shoved their heads and hands through patients' auto windows, shoved and deliberately collided into volunteer escorts, and threatened terrorist attacks on the clinic.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, demonstrators outside the Choices Women's Medical Center have been described as vicious and hostile.

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The Democratic attorney general says "the law guarantees women the right to control their own bodies and access the reproductive health care they need without obstruction". "We'll do what it takes to protect those rights for women across NY". Image via Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office.

The complaint alleges that between 25 and 65 protestors (several affiliated with Brooklyn and New York State-based church groups) have gathered outside the clinic every Saturday morning for five years to disseminate anti-choice literature and "menace" people connected to the clinic.

"Some patients who manage to make it past the protesters still have difficulty accessing care, because they arrive at the clinic shaking and crying", the lawsuit said.

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Protesters have also made death threats to escorts, according to the lawsuit, saying things such as "You never know when you're going to die" and "You don't know when you might get shot".

The goal of Schneiderman's lawsuit, which comes after a yearlong investigation, is to not only prohibit protesters from harassing Choices' patients, staff and volunteers, but to also create a 16-foot "buffer zone" around the facility "to protect women's fundamental rights", Schneiderman tweeted.

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