New York attorney general sues anti-abortion activists over alleged harassment of Planned Parenthood clinic
New York Attorney General Letitia James sued two anti-abortion activists, alleging the pair was “harassing clinic patients, staff, and escorts” during prolonged protests in front of a Manhattan Planned Parenthood clinic in 2020.
The Democratic prosecutor filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Bevelyn Beatty, an outspoken abortion critic who has thousands of social media followers, and Edmee Chavannes, alleging that the duo was “blocking access to Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s (PPGNY) Manhattan Health Center and threatening those entering with violence and other intimidating and disruptive behavior,” according to a press release. Alongside the litigation, which seeks to bar the activists from an 18- to 30-foot range near the clinic, is a preliminary injunction that seeks to stop the pair’s conduct, which has persisted since February 2019.
“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. Let me be very clear: no person, no business, and no government body has the right to deny or limit a woman’s access to an abortion, and I will continue to do everything within my legal power to support the reproductive rights of women.”
The duo began protesting on Fridays and Saturdays and “would typically stand right at the door” to the clinic and “follow patients and staff and yell at them at close range as they passed by,” a complaint read. Tensions between the pair and the clinic came to a boil through March and June 2020 when an organized event to “declare WAR on PLANNED PARENTHOOD” saw Beatty “[slam] a staff member’s hand in the door causing her to need x-rays; repeatedly [shove] a clinic volunteer attempting to enter the clinic; [slap] a different volunteer in the face; and [threaten] to knock an escort unconscious,” the complaint added.
Past conduct from the pair prompted the New York City Police Department to erect barricades around the center due to the abortion activists’ supposed weaponizing of “the threat of the [coronavirus] to further intimidate” staff at the clinic,” James’s office said. The complaint added that the activists refused to wear masks and follow COVID-19 guidelines in the boroughs.
Beatty, who in June painted over a mural a Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower in New York City three separate times, was reportedly stabbed alongside Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the right-wing group the Proud Boys, during a violent November altercation in Washington, D.C., that saw attendance from radical left-wing groups like antifa. Tarrio has since been apprehended by law enforcement and charged with burning a Black Lives Matter flag and possession of two so-called “high-capacity magazines.”
Both Beatty and Chavannes did not immediately return requests for comment from the Washington Examiner at the time of publishing.
“Today, Attorney General Letitia James took necessary and appropriate actions to protect the safety and dignity of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s patients, staff, and volunteers,” Joy D. Calloway, the interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, said in a statement. “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. The vitriol of hate outside our Manhattan Health Center is a clear and present threat to reproductive rights.”
James has filed a number of high-profile lawsuits in the past, including an August suit to dissolve the National Rifle Association for allegedly partaking in “illegal conduct,” including the “diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership” and “awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family.”