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Coalition Life files a suit on the 100-foot bubble zone in Carbondale

Coalition Life executive director Brian Westbrook speaks at a podium with people standing behind him holding signs reading Love Women, Protect Babies
Brad Palmer
Coalition Life executive director Brian Westbrook speaking in front of Carbondale City Hall on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

A pro-life group is filing a lawsuit over what it believes is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech in the City of Carbondale's bubble zone ordinance.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the ordinance approved this past January by the Carbondale City Council.

Coalition Life executive director Brian Westbrook says the bubble zone prevents options for women who are seeking abortions at the two facilities in Carbondale.

He says 36-hundred women have chosen life in eleven years, with a one percent turnaround rate on average for their sidewalk counselors. But, that doesn't tell the whole story.

"As we handbill, offer information, we get phone calls even after the fact. Our pregnancy center, Women's Care Connect, on a regular basis gets phone calls directly from these brochures that we're handing out to them."

Westbrook says southern Illinois is becoming a focal point of the abortion issue.

"You look at the map, all of the variety of states surrounding Illinois are all restricting abortion pretty heavily and so that makes southern Illinois the hot bed of where you would want to go if you are an abortion facility."

Thomas More Society law firm head litigator Peter Breen says people have a right to speak and the government cannot restrict that right because it doesn't like a certain viewpoint.

"We know here that while this ordinance is going to cover 153 medical facilities in the City of Carbondale, it's really only aimed at two that are here right now, another one on the way at a gigantic Planned Parenthood, and any more abortion facilities that are intended to be built here in Carbondale."

Breen says his client is prepared to take this fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he believes it will get a favorable ruling because in the Dobbs decision striking down Roe V. Wade, he says the majority of justices stated bubble zones violate the First Amendment right to free speech.

As a news producer and news anchor on All Things Considered, Brad provides the listeners with a recap of the day's top local and state news as well as breaking news at any given time. Contact WSIU Radio at 618-453-6101 or email wsiunews@wsiu.org
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