January 30, 2023
The attorney general of Virginia warned that protesters who disrupt Catholic Mass this Sunday in the name of abortion rights could face legal action.

The attorney general of Virginia warned that protesters who disrupt Catholic Mass this Sunday in the name of abortion rights could face legal action.

State Attorney General Jason Miyares released a statement Saturday responding to the newfound threats of protest outside of Catholic parishes in Virginia and nationwide.

“I deeply respect the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly,” Miyares wrote. “But no one has the right to interfere with the fundamental and natural right of all Virginians to practice their religion in peace.”

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Miyares also promised to “bring civil suits” against protesters who “intimidate, interfere with, or obstruct any person who is seeking to exercise his or her First Amendment right of religious freedom.” The state’s top law enforcement agent cited Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which is featured in Virginia’s constitution, as his precedent for “protecting this sacred right for all Virginians.”

Threats of protest come days after the draft of a majority opinion penned by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was leaked, revealing the potential plans to overturn Roe v. Wade. Protests have taken place on the steps of the court and outside of state capitols nationwide. Churches that espouse anti-abortion views, such as the Catholic Church, have also come under increasing scrutiny and threats of protest from pro-abortion rights groups.

The Catholic Church has been adamant in its anti-abortion position for centuries, condemning abortion and opting to excommunicate automatically women who receive one outside of a life-threatening circumstance. The church has said that those who have gone through with an abortion, however, can be forgiven.

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Miyares’s office will be monitoring protests at churches for criminal violations, according to the statement.

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