Judy Madsen’s troubles began when she allowed her name and phone number to be placed on a pro-life brochure as a contact person for a rally at her church in suburban Orlando, Florida.

By doing so, the 58-year-old volunteer sidewalk counselor became identified—at least in the eyes of state judge Robert McGregor—as a threat to the Aware Women’s Clinic for Choice in Melbourne, 75 miles away. Managers of the facility had sued Operation Rescue (OR) in 1991 to prevent its members from bothering clients and employees. Although not affiliated with OR, Madsen had been identified as a pro-lifer, and that meant, according to McGregor, she might act “in concert” with other pro-lifers. A permanent injunction ordered by McGregor last year created a 36-foot “buffer zone” around the abortion facility that OR and six individuals, including Madsen, could not enter. No pro-lifer could cross a red line painted around the area or make any “sounds or images observable to or within earshot of the patients inside.” In addition, a 300-foot zone around the building—and the homes of employees or abortion-rights “agents”—permits pro-life speech only if listeners show an interest in hearing it.

“This is McCarthyism of the nineties, where speech is censored before it can be spoken, where peaceful protests must first be permitted by those of the opposing viewpoint,” Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, a religious-liberties organization in Orlando, told CHRIST IANITY TODAY. “In public areas, the Constituion does not require that pro-life demonstrators receive permission to speak from those with the pro-choice viewpoint.”

Staver, 37, defended Madsen, Ed Martin, and Shirley Hobbs before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 in Madsen v. Women’s Health ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.