Press Release

October 27, 2008


A group with a history of blocking the entrance to an abortion and reproductive health clinic in Tulsa announced its plan to protest at the clinic again on October 18. The management of the clinic, Reproductive Services, voiced its concern to the Tulsa Police Department that the protesters would block its entrance by parading on the sidewalk across the facility’s driveway. The Tulsa police, citing potential liability for restricting freedom of speech and assembly, expressed reluctance to limit the movement of the protesters across the driveway.

The director of the clinic contacted Rex Friend, a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Oklahoma. Friend, a lawyer well-versed and experienced in protecting the rights of protesters, received guidance from the state ACLU office and the ACLU National Reproductive Freedom Project. He then provided case law to the clinic, and the material was provided to the Tulsa police.

As a result of clarifying the rights of the protesters balanced with the rights of clients to access the clinic, the demonstration occurred as planned with one exception. The protesters did not attempt to block the clinic’s driveway and the police were present to insure that the rights of all parties were not infringed. Both free speech and reproductive freedom were protected as a result of this compromise.