State Suit Cites Violations Of Clinic Access Laws

Attorney General Spitzer today filed a federal lawsuit against two individuals for obstructing access and harassing patients and staff at a reproductive health facility in New York City.

The lawsuit alleges that John Cain and Luis Menchaca have repeatedly interfered with, harassed and intimidated patients and staff at the Margaret Sanger Clinic in Manhattan. The suit alleges violations under both the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and the New York State Clinic Access Act.

"While citizens have the right to express their views, they may not violate laws that protect patients and staff from threats, obstruction and acts of force," Spitzer said. "When they do so, my office has a duty under the law to intervene."

Spitzer filed a simultaneous motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the defendants from further violations of the laws that protect access to reproductive health services. The suit, supported by over 20 declarations from staff, patients, and neighbors, also seeks the creation of a small buffer zone to keep defendants away from the entrance to the clinic.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants repeatedly have violated the clinic access laws in recent years, and that their illegal conduct has increased in frequency and aggressiveness. The complaint specifically asserts that defendants have:

  • Harassed patients as they approach the clinic;
  • Blocked patients from entering the clinic;
  • Screamed at and cursed clinic patients and staff;
  • Pushed and shoved staff; and
  • Made various verbal threats, including the claim that the clinic might be bombed.

The suit was filed today in federal court in Manhattan. In addition to seeking establishment of a buffer zone and enjoining the defendants illegal conduct, the suit seeks penalties and damages against the defendants.

Reproductive Rights Unit of the Civil Rights Bureau Director Lisa Landau worked on this matter withAssistant Attorney General Anne Pearson.


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