A judge has denied an anti-abortion protester’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that the state filed against him because he yelled so loudly outside a Portland health care facility that his voice was heard inside the building.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office filed the lawsuit in November seeking to enforce a section of state law for the first time to prohibit Brian Ingalls of Lisbon from coming within 50 feet of Planned Parenthood’s clinic at 443 Congress St.

Ingalls’ attorney, Stephen Whiting, sought during a hearing last week in the Cumberland County Courthouse to have the lawsuit dismissed before any evidence is presented, on grounds that Ingalls’ right to preach under federal law outweighs the rights of women under state law to have safe and effective health care.

The lawsuit accuses Ingalls, 26, of violating the rights of women to receive health care in a noise-free facility by yelling so loudly on Oct. 23 about murdering babies, aborted babies’ blood and Jesus that his voice was heard in the second-floor counseling and examination rooms. He continued yelling after being told by a police officer to quiet down, the lawsuit says.

Justice Lance Walker said Thursday in his 12-page order that Whiting made two arguments in the motion to dismiss, and ruled that both arguments are premature at this point in the case.

First, Whiting argued that the Attorney General’s Office failed to identify any patients or employees inside the Planned Parenthood clinic who were harmed by Ingalls’ preaching, and that Ingalls didn’t hurt or threaten anyone, damage anything or trespass.

Walker rejected that argument.

“The courts do not require at the initial pleading stage the molecular level of detail that Mr. Ingalls contends the absence of which should result in a dismissal,” Walker wrote. “While these issues may be presented by motion for summary judgment or at trial in order to put the state to its proof, they are prematurely presented in a motion to dismiss.”

In the second argument, Whiting said the Attorney General’s Office misapplied the Maine Civil Rights Act in the lawsuit because Ingalls is protected from laws intended for noise by his First Amendment right to free speech.

Walker rejected that argument, too, but he said his denial will not prevent Whiting from making the same argument if it becomes relevant at a later stage in the case.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: scottddolan


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