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New York AG sues anti-abortion activists for harassing Planned Parenthood staff, patients

New York AG sues anti-abortion activists for harassing Planned Parenthood staff, patients
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New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against two anti-abortion activists, accusing them of illegally blocking access to a Planned Parenthood clinic and harassing patients and staffers.

James is seeking a preliminary injunction prohibiting Bevelyn Beatty and Edmee Chavannes from coming within a buffer zone around the immediate area of the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s Manhattan Health Center.

“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."

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Beatty and Chavannes could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the complaint, the two have been showing up at the clinic almost every week since early 2019.

"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."

James's office alleges that Beatty and Chavannes would disregard public safety orders throughout the pandemic, repeatedly getting up close with patients and clinic staff without masks.

The lawsuit also claims that on at least one occasion in June 2020, Beatty became violent during a demonstration at the clinic when she "slammed a staff member’s hand in the door, causing her to need x-rays; repeatedly shoved a clinic volunteer attempting to enter the clinic; slapped a different volunteer in the face; and threatened to knock an escort unconscious."

“Over the years, we have witnessed these anti-abortion extremists spew lies and use physical force to threaten our staff, bully our volunteers, and demoralize our patients," Joy Calloway, the interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, said in a statement. "The vitriol of hate outside our Manhattan Health Center is a clear and present threat to reproductive rights. This lawsuit sends a loud and clear message: Planned Parenthood patients deserve to access sexual and reproductive health care free of fear and intimidation."