State Regulations
Know the rules and regulations!

Conducting peaceful, prayerful activity in the public areas outside of Planned Parenthood facilities is your First Amendment right. Every week, thousands of pro-lifers across the country exercise this right with no problems and no interference with their rights.

While preparing for your presence outside of Planned Parenthood, we recommend that you take a few minutes to review the following notes. However, none of the material below is intended to be legal advice. If you have specific legal concerns, please contact a local pro-life attorney who can give you specific instructions.

Know the rules and regulations

Protest activity can be regulated by laws and ordinances at the federal, state and local levels. The best approach for learning these regulations is to do your homework. This article provides some general guidelines and advice to get you started.

The fundamentals

The basic rule in exercising your First Amendment rights is that you cannot infringe on other people""’s rights.

Stay off private property. This includes driveways, lawns and other areas around buildings. Just because there is no fence around a property, does not mean it is public property.

Remain on public property. You generally have the right to be on public property, which includes sidewalks, parks and other open public areas, as long as you do not block other members of the public from walking or driving through those areas.

Do not block entrances. Federal law requires that clinic entrances and exits must remain clear at all times. Violating this law is a serious infraction, so steer clear of doorways and driveways.
Check with your local police to see what is legal at the area where you want to gather. Our experience is that most police departments will gladly work with you and show you where you can gather and what you can do.
If the police cite any local or state regulations, ask for a written copy of those regulations. Read them carefully and make sure the police are interpreting them correctly. If you have any questions, check with your local attorney.

What to look for

One type of law that exists in some municipalities is a """bubble zone.""" These laws generally require protestors to stay a certain distance away from clinic patrons. It creates an insulated """bubble""" around patrons, which moves along the sidewalk with them. There is no federal bubble zone law, so any restrictions like this will be state or local restrictions. Again, if the police or anyone else tells you that there is such a restriction where you want to gather, make sure you get a written copy of the regulation.
Any regulations affecting signs or literature must be """content neutral.""" The regulations, such as restrictions on putting literature on cars or handing the literature to a driver or passenger in a car, must apply to all literature and cannot single out pro-life literature. If you have questions, check with your local attorney or one of the national groups listed below.

For more help

If you or your attorney have any questions on any first amendment issues, you can get expert advice from the Thomas More Law Center, headquartered in Michigan (734-827-2001), or the Thomas More Society, headquartered in Illinois (312-782-1680).

Final thought

We always encourage people to check out local regulations and to have a peaceful, prayerful and legal presence outside of Planned Parenthood. Thousands of people are doing just that and we are here to help you get one started in your community.

Additional Questions? E-mail or call (540) 659-7900

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