updated 12/4/2007 5:55:30 PM ET 2007-12-04T22:55:30

A Georgia prosecutor has dropped a disorderly conduct charge against an anti-abortion activist who was arrested for driving a truck emblazoned with images of aborted fetuses.

Gwinnett County Solicitor Rosanna Szabo said the display of the images, "as shocking and offensive as they are," did not violate the law.

Police had arrested Robert Dean Roethlisberger Jr., 44, near the Mall of Georgia on the day after Thanksgiving, when he refused to remove images on a "Truth Truck" owned by Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group. Police, who said the images violated the law because they were "obscene and vulgar," also impounded the truck and removed the banners.

In an e-mail Monday to the Gwinnett Daily Post newspaper, Szabo said, "I have reviewed the evidence and law in this case and concluded that the physical display of the images in question — as shocking and offensive as they are — does not constitute 'obscene and vulgar or profane language' as specifically prohibited by this statute."

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said the decision vindicates Roethlisberger and condemns the police officer "who so aggressively violated our constitutional rights." He said the organization is considering a lawsuit.

Abortion has remained a highly sensitive issue in the United States ever since the top U.S. court in 1973 established a legal right to abortion.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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