Pro-life activist, 85, urges Judge Jackson to uphold First Amendment freedoms: 'Life is precious'

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Eleanor McCullen’s refrigerator in Massachusetts is her daily reminder of all the families she’s impacted through her two decades of counseling women out of having abortions. 

McCullen, 85, spends two days a week outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Boston trying to talk to pregnant women heading into the clinic. She hands out a business card with a picture of a cross, the words “Hope, Help and Love” and her contact information.

As to how many women have changed their minds after meeting McCullen on the sidewalk, the anti-abortion activist says, “I don’t have an exact number.”

“I only can tell you is, on my refrigerator, I have hundreds of baby pictures and toddler pictures,” McCullen told Fox News Digital. “In fact, my husband Joe said to me last week, ‘I think that we will have to get a new refrigerator.’”

Eleanor McCullen testifies on the fourth day of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s nominee for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, in Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 24, 2022.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

McCullen famously challenged a 2007 Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot buffer zone that restricted anti-abortion activists from speaking with people entering abortion clinics. The McCullen v. Coakley case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 2014, the high court unanimously struck down the buffer zone law, noting that public streets and sidewalks are venues for the exchange of ideas consistent with First Amendment freedoms. 

McCullen is now speaking out again with a message for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s pick to become the newest justice on the Supreme Court.  

“I hope that if she is confirmed that she will choose to uphold all Americans’ First Amendment freedoms,” McCullen told Fox News Digital. “I can’t say that enough. That’s what I would hope.”

On Thursday, McCullen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a guest of the Republicans to speak during Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. 

Anti-abortion protestor Eleanor McCullen of Newton, Massachusetts, and her attorney, Philip Moran, stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court following oral arguments in the case of McCullen v. Coakley Jan. 15, 2014.
(Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

While she didn’t take a stance on whether Jackson should be confirmed, McCullen told senators she was “deeply saddened” to learn that when Jackson was in private practice she advocated in favor of Massachusetts’ previous buffer zone law in a 2001 legal brief on behalf of abortion clinics. 

The brief said few Americans who seek to exercise constitutionally protected rights must “run a gauntlet through a hostile, noisy crowd of ‘in-your-face’ protesters. Still fewer citizens, when seeking medical or surgical care — particularly care involving deeply private matters — must confront a crowd swarming around them, shouting in their faces, blocking their way and thrusting disturbing photographs and objects at them.”

McCullen took issue with such wording and told senators that Jackson and her colleagues “maligned pro-life sidewalk counselors, characterizing us in ugly and false ways.”

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington March 23, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

McCullen said the reason she successfully challenged the buffer zone law is because she didn’t want to shout from a distance at women or come across as insensitive. Instead, she wanted to have personal sidewalk encounters with women where she offered love and support to them in a time of crisis. 

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During her Senate testimony, Jackson declared that landmark abortion rights cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are “the settled law of the Supreme Court.”

She also declined to offer her thoughts on whether life began at conception, a fundamental question for both sides of the abortion debate.

“When does life begin, in your opinion?” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asked Jackson. 

Abortion-rights and anti-abortion demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 1, 2021, in Washington. 
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“I don’t know. I have a belief. I have personal, religious and otherwise — beliefs that have nothing to do with the law in terms of when life begins,” Jackson responded.

If Jackson is confirmed, the ideological makeup of the court will remain the same with a 6-3 conservative majority. Anti-abortion advocates are hopeful the court will overturn or significantly roll back abortion rights this year.

“Life is precious. Life is a miracle,” McCullen told Fox News Digital. “We cannot as a country kill our children in the womb. I certainly hope that the Supreme Court will vote to save as many babies as we can save.”

Fox News’ Aubrie Spady contributed to this report. 

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