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Pa. school, student settle suit over anti-abortion leaflets

By The Associated Press

CRESSON, Pa. — A student has settled a lawsuit that accused public school officials of wrongly preventing her from passing out anti-abortion fliers at school.

Sarah Hollen, 16, a sophomore at Penn Cambria High School, sued the school and the Penn Cambria School District in federal court last month.

Her attorneys, the Alliance Defense Fund, filed notice yesterday with the U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania to withdraw the suit.

"First Amendment rights are not null and void for students on a public school campus," ADF attorney Matt Bowman said in a statement. "We are pleased Sarah will now be entitled to the same privileges enjoyed by other individuals and groups on campus."

School Superintendent Mary Beth Whited confirmed the settlement, but denied that Hollen's free-speech rights had been violated.

School policy requires students to let their principals review materials before they are distributed, and bars their distribution in classrooms, Whited said. Hollen violated both aspects of that policy and has agreed not to in the future, Whited said.

"There was no attempt on our part to squash her rights, whatsoever," Whited said.

In the lawsuit, however, Hollen said she had obtained permission from her principal to distribute the fliers in October, but was later told to stop because they were controversial and might start a fight.

Her attorneys had requested an injunction because Hollen again plans to hand out the fliers on Jan. 22, the 34th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion.

"We will be sitting down with the student prior to the requested date to go over the policy," Whited said.


School relents on teen's anti-abortion sweatshirt

After threat of legal action, Newport News, Va., high school says Daniel Goergen can wear sweatshirt that says, 'Abortion is homicide.' 03.23.04

Girl can't hand out anti-abortion pamphlets, judge rules
Eighth-grader's request to distribute information at school on 'day of remembrance' is turned down. 04.16.04

5th Circuit sides with anti-abortion group in leafleting dispute
By Chris Hamby Panel finds University of Texas policy prohibiting anonymous distribution of literature on campus violates the First Amendment. 06.03.05

Indiana State student questions campus leafleting policy
Officials told freshman school permits people to hand out pamphlets only if a student group or other campus organization sponsors them. 04.10.06

School can bar teen from handing out anti-abortion fliers
By David L. Hudson Jr. 6th Circuit upholds Michigan school's literature-distribution policy, finding hallway isn't a public forum. 10.10.08

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