Last Updated:October 1 @ 12:30 pm

Jilted ex-boyfriend puts up abortion billboard - Is it free speech?

By AP Staff

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. – A New Mexico man's decision to lash out with a billboard ad saying his ex-girlfriend had an abortion against his wishes has touched off a legal debate over free speech and privacy rights.

The sign on Alamogordo's main thoroughfare shows 35-year-old Greg Fultz holding the outline of an infant. The text reads, "This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!"

Fultz's ex-girlfriend has taken him to court for harassment and violation of privacy. A domestic court official has recommended the billboard be removed.

But Fultz's attorney argues the order violates his client's free speech rights.

"As distasteful and offensive as the sign may be to some, for over 200 years in this country the First Amendment protects distasteful and offensive speech," Todd Holmes said.

The woman's friends say she had a miscarriage, not an abortion, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal.

Holmes disputes that, saying his case is based on the accuracy of his client's statement.

"My argument is: What Fultz said is the truth," Holmes said.

The woman's lawyer said she had not discussed the pregnancy with her client. But for Ellen Jessen, whether her client had a miscarriage or an abortion is not the point. The central issue is her client's privacy and the fact that the billboard has caused severe emotional distress, Jessen said.

"Her private life is not a matter of public interest," she told the Alamogordo Daily News.

Jessen says her client's ex-boyfriend has crossed the line.

"Nobody is stopping him from talking about father's rights. ... but a person can't invade someone's private life."

For his part, Holmes invoked the U.S. Supreme Court decision from earlier this year concerning the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its anti-gay protests at military funerals and other high-profile events. He believes the high court's decision to allow the protests, as hurtful as they are, is grounds for his client to put up the abortion billboard.

"Very unpopular offensive speech," he told the Alamogordo Daily News. "The Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, said that is protected speech."

Holmes says he is going to fight the order to remove the billboard through a District Court appeal.

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9 Comments

  1. kerryb29Comment by kerryb29
    June 7, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    If the billboard doesn’t mention her name or have her picture, how is it violating her privacy?  Even the article doesn’t mention her name. 

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  2. ter334Comment by ter334
    June 7, 2011 @ 11:05 am

    This abortion, like all abortions, violated the unborn’s right to live.  Conception is not an act of inconvienience for women, but the method by which we are all here on planet earth.   It is the act of creation of human life. 

    “Nobody is stopping him from talking about father’s rights. … but a person can’t invade someone’s private life.” That person, to be fair, must include women to prevent them from invading the unborn’s private life.

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  3. JMDComment by JMD
    June 7, 2011 @ 11:31 am

    I didn’t use the poll box, because it doesn’t adequately reflect my feelings on the matter.  For total strangers who pass by and see the sign, it’s a “Who cares?” matter.  They don’t know him, and even if they were interested, there’s no way to identify the girl.  So on that level, no, there’s no invasion of privacy.  However, on the local level, everyone who knows him, knows who he was dating.  We’re talking slander now, and he could just have laid himself wide open for one heckuva lawsuit.  From my seventh-grade history textbook:  “One whose reputation has been injured can sue for slander without infringeing on freedom of speech.”  Case closed.

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    • starkwoodComment by starkwood
      June 7, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

      There is an absolute bar against an accusation of slander when what is stated is known to be the truth!  It will, however, but up to the “speaker” to provide witness or documentary evidence that what he said on the billboard is the truth.  That could be tricky if her medical records are secured and kept out of court.

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  4. nomaddaveComment by nomaddave
    June 7, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    I live here in Alamogordo. I don’t believe I’ve seen the billboard in question. I guess I’ll have to look for it on the way home tonight.

    If the ad is as it shows here in the story, there is no mention of names or anything. So, just a guilty conscience?

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  5. ter334Comment by ter334
    June 7, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

    Could she be prosecuted for perjury when asked in court if she had an abortion?  Plus an abortion involves child abuse, indeed child killing!  A real discussion about what is an abortion has never been had in a court of law.  This maybe the time for such a discussion. 

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  6. joetinfwComment by joetinfw
    June 8, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    This is almost certainly a freedom of speech issue. The only defense against a slander charge is the truth, which would be as noted above that a woman aborted a fetus created with this man. There is, as noted by other posters above, an issue of father’s rights but that won’t get a hearing from this situation.

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  7. usnblueComment by usnblue
    June 8, 2011 @ 11:55 am

    Give me a break. Free speech issue? Really, now. The father spoke the truth so it is NOT slander and furthermore her name was NOT mentioned on the billboard, so the privacy charge is BS!

    Give me a break. Free speech issue? Really, now. The father spoke the truth so it is NOT slander and furthermore her name was NOT mentioned on the billboard, so the privacy charge is BS!

    I am glad to see a father taking responsibility for the child and wanted it. Most men don’t care if the girlfriend wants an abortion instead of taking full responsibility for the child.
    She should have kept her legs closed and this would not be an issue!

    One last thing, it is NOT fetus, it’s a BABY at the time of conception. Calling a baby a fetus is = to calling a white person a honkey, redneck, trailer park trash, etc….It’s derogatory.
     
     

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    • dadComment by dad
      June 14, 2011 @ 7:39 am

      “Most men don’t care…”  Careful here.  The liberal femi-nazi courts are taking men out of their childrens lives even though it is well documented that divorce is extremely detrimental to the children involved… especially without fathers present.  Men who are single fathers are increasing in numbers and also doing very well… and generally are not a drain on society.  There should be more than there are.

      This re-engineered society is not working… at least not for the children.  You theoretically have a “choice” to kill a baby, but not to choose your own light bulbs.

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  8. Pingback: A Right to Kill | Command the Raven

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