Greg Fultz of New Mexico is facing a lawsuit after he paid for a billboard in public view that alleges that a former lover aborted their child. Two weeks ago, the billboard went up bearing the words “This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!,” and with a photograph of Fultz holding the outline of an infant in his hands. Fultz’s former female companion has sued him and claims that the billboard violates her right to privacy. The suit demands that the billboard should come down. In response, Fultz and his attorney have appealed the restraining order saying that his rights to free speech are being abridged.
“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,” said Fultz’s attorney Todd Holmes. He cited the Supreme Court decision in the case of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas, which conducts offensive protests at military and other funerals, to make his case for Fultz’s billboard message. A debate has thus been unfurled over free speech and privacy rights. Holmes told the Alamogordo Daily News, “The Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, said that is protected speech.” “My argument is: What Fultz said is the truth,” Holmes said in response, saying Fultz believes his girlfriend obtained an abortion. He will take his fight to the local district court. The billboard in question does not mention Fultz's former female companion by name, nor does it identify Fultz himself.
The woman in question has so far remained unidentified. According to media reports, she admits that she did not consult with Fultz about the termination of her pregnancy. She denies having had an abortion and claims that she had a miscarriage. Ellen Jessen, the attorney for the former girlfriend would neither confirm nor deny the abortion. She says the issue is not the abortion or the miscarriage but the right to privacy. “Nobody is stopping him from talking about father’s rights … but a person can’t invade someone’s private life,” she told the Alamogordo Daily News.
Attorney Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, a prolife organization, spoke to the grief borne by the fathers of aborted children. “Regardless of the prudential character of this particular billboard, it does highlight a deep and festering wound in our society: the harm that abortion causes to the fathers of aborted children,” he said.
Bowman noted, “Most attention on post-abortion psychological harm is focused on the mothers, but men similarly have intense grief due to abortions of their children, both when they participate and when the abortion is done against their wishes.” He pointed out that organizations such as the Rachel’s Vineyard, or the Catholic Church’s Project Rachel ministry, can be contacted to help men grieving over an abortion. Right to Life of New Mexico initially endorsed the billboard but backed out of co-sponsoring it upon learning of the details behind it.
Commenting on the controversy was Kary James of Yahoo. Zeroing in on Fultz’s defense that the Westboro Baptist Church court case underscores his right to offensive speech, James wrote “The accuracy of Westboro's speech cannot be proven. Fultz's speech is potentially libelous. While a court can determine whether or not a religious belief is sincerely held, it is unable make a factual ruling on whether God does or does not hate homosexuals. Fultz's girlfriend's pregnancy loss is a different matter entirely. The woman's friends claim she suffered a miscarriage, while Fultz insists she had an abortion. Unlike the religious claim, the facts surrounding a pregnancy loss can be determined through a doctor's testimony. If Fultz's claim is true, the billboard still does not qualify for free speech protections for the reasons given above. If the girlfriend's claim is true, then far from being protected speech, the billboard is libelous, defamatory and may constitute emotional abuse.” James opined that revealing the alleged abortion could endanger the woman’s chances of obtaining employment.