NewsTue Jul 4, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST
Criminal Charges for Showing Abortion Pictures Violate Freedom of Speech Rights: Editor of NRO
By Gudrun Schultz
NORFOLK, England, July 4, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Jailing abortion opponents for showing pictures of aborted babies is an attack on free speech wrote journalist and editor of National Review Online, Kathryn Lopez, in the Dunklin Democrat last Friday.
In an article for the Democrat Lopez cited the conviction and jailing in the U.K. of Edward Atkinson and the conviction (on the same day) of a wheelchair-bound woman for sending pictures of aborted babies to pharmacies, as instances of government-led attacks on freedom of speech rights. 74-year-old Edward Atkinson spent one month in jail for repeatedly sending graphic pictures of aborted babies to staff and administrators at Norfolk’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He was attempting to “educate” them, he said, about the abortion procedures taking place at the institution.
”t’s a scandal that a man would be jailed for such an act of free speech. But sending offensive material through the mail is a crime in Merry Old England and so a judge deemed this old man’s mail criminal. You don’t have to think that abortion is an evil that we need to eradicate to think that that is an outrage,” writes Lopez.
Referring to images of partial-birth abortion used by the U.S. National Right to Life Committee to emphasize the barbarity of the procedure, Lopez said, “Not only should a citizen be free to show such disturbing images—that illustrate a legal procedure offensive to our very humanity—those images can be a public service.”
“That’s why the United Kingdom’s treatment of Mr. Atkinson has been so reprehensible.”
“A judge told Atkinson that ‘it is clear that you intended to shock and I am certain your purpose was to cause distress and anxiety,’” wrote Lopez. “Well, I for one am shocked, distressed and anxious—not just because abortion is legal there, and here across the pond, but because of this apparent governmentally enforced conspiracy of silence. The Atkinson files reveal a real case of aborting free speech. Abortion defenders may not agree on the underlying issue—but can’t we all muster outrage over attempts to avoid discussing the details of the issue?”
Along with one month in jail, Atkinson was given a five-year anti-social behaviour order and threatened with five years incarceration if he disobeys the order. The hospital also removed him from a wait list for hip surgery evaluation and banned him from receiving anything but life-saving treatment.
Read the Daily Dunklin Democratic report here
See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
74-Year-Old UK Pro-Lifer Jailed, Denied Health Care for Sending Abortion Pics to Hospital