Santa Fe, New Mexico (Reuters) - A New Mexico man who said he was upset that his girlfriend had an abortion bought a highway billboard and accused her of killing their child.
The billboard, in south-central New Mexico, shows 35-year old Greg Fultz holding the outline of a baby in his arms. It reads "This Would Have Been A Picture of My 2-month-Old Baby If the Mother Had Decided to NOT Kill Our Child!"
Fultz's ex-girlfriend calls the billboard harassment and invasion of privacy, and has taken him to court under the New Mexico Family Violence Protection Act. But Fultz says he's exercising his First Amendment rights, said his attorney, Todd Holmes.
"Citizens have the right to express their speech through any media and he chose a billboard," Holmes told Reuters on Tuesday. "We feel a billboard fits within the First Amendment even if it's offensive to some."
A petition filed by Fultz' ex-girlfriend said that Fultz had a pattern of stalking and harassment, including posting "intimate cyber shots of me from one of our cyber dates," she wrote. The domestic abuse petition also requested that the billboard be removed and online harassment stopped.
An attorney for the ex-girlfriend could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Fultz, who runs a computer services business, had the billboard put up in mid-May.
In a hearing last week, a judge ordered the billboard to come down by mid-June. Holmes said he plans to file a motion to keep the billboard up, but he said his client is ready to face prison if necessary.
"That's how passionately he feels about protecting his free speech," Holmes said.
According to Holmes, when Fultz and his girlfriend, who was then 18, found out they were going to have a baby, she wanted to get married. Fultz refused, Holmes said, and during a church camping trip there was a "discussion about an ultimatum. Either you marry me or I'm not going to have this baby type of thing."
The girlfriend later flew to Wisconsin for work and when she returned she was no longer pregnant, Holmes said. She did not explain what happened, but Fultz suspected she had an abortion, Holmes said.
"I know it's her body," Holmes said. "But his statement is more along the lines of 'Hey, you know what? Dads have a decision in the process too."
New Mexico's Right to Life Committee initially endorsed the billboard, but has withdrawn its support because it received a number of emails from people who said Fultz' ex-girlfriend had a miscarriage, not an abortion, said executive director Dauneen Dolce.
Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune