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Appellate Court Dismisses Land Use Challenge To Abortion Provider’s Office

A state appellate court has rebuffed an anti-choice group’s challenge to the zoning approvals for an abortion provider’s office in Brighton, New York. In ruling that the group lacked standing to challenge the town’s approval of the premises, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department wrote, “Simply stated, opposition to abortion cannot serve as a lawful basis for challenging zoning decisions.”

“The decision ensures that anti-choice groups cannot misuse zoning laws as a means of harassing abortion providers,” said Rebekah Diller, Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Rights Project. The NYCLU and Planned Parenthood Federation of America had filed an amicus brief on behalf of local family planning groups urging dismissal of the case.

The Appellate Division reversed a trial court’s ruling that would have restricted gynecologist Dr. Morris Wortman from performing abortions at his office based on speculative claims about the potential for anti-choice protests and violence at the site. The Appellate Division squarely rejected such a rationale for singling out abortion providers for differential treatment under the zoning laws.

NYCLU attorneys Rebekah Diller and Anna Schissel, along with attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, filed the amicus brief on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region and Family Planning Advocates of New York State. A copy of the decision by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, in Brighton Residents Against Violence to Children v. MW Properties et al. is available upon request or at

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