Buffer zones are necessary and do not impede free speech

15 Jan 2014 07:55 pm
Posted by: Donna

Robert Robb is right on the subject of buffer zones to shield patients from protesters around abortion clinics:

Abortion clinic protests aren’t really political speech. The object isn’t principally to change public policy regarding abortion. The principal object is to deter specific women from having an abortion and to make it difficult for abortion clinics to operate.

Abortion is currently legal. Protecting the ability to engage in lawful commerce is a proper function of government. Buffer zones for protests near abortion clinics are a reasonable measure to do that. Emotions on the subject run high. Confrontations that get out of control are a risk.

Confrontations that get out of control. That’s a neat little formulation there, suggesting that the antagonism and danger are equal between a group of people who are there for the purpose of harassing patients and clinic workers and the latter, who are there to get or provide a medical procedure. Which side has been shooting doctors and bombing things, Bob Robb? Oh, and he also had to end by declaring one in three women to be sad barbarians.

I believe the tide of history is with the pro-life movement and that, in time, the epidemic of abortions in this country following Roe v. Wade will be regarded as a sad barbarity.

But some antis are apparently not willing for the tide of history to usher in acceptance of the idea that women should be involuntary incubators. They are trying to convince the top court in the nation to let them get right in women’s faces to “counsel” them out of abortion. The face of their mission before the court is that of a diminutive 77 year old grandmother.

The Associated Press’ (AP) January 13 coverage of the case highlighted plaintiff Eleanor McCullen as “the new face of a decades-old fight” between anti-abortion protesters and health clinics and paid special attention “her pleasant demeanor and grandmotherly mien.” A New York Times profile of McCullen similarly framed anti-abortion protesters as harmless, noting that McMullen “is 77, and she said she posed no threat”:

“I am 5 feet 1 inch tall,” she said in a sworn statement filed in the case. “My body type can be described as ‘plump.’ I am a mother and grandmother.”

The only other protester featured by the Times is the similarly unimposing 81-year-old Mary O’Donnell, who “said she found the line baffling.”

Both outlets briefly noted that Massachusetts buffer zone law was approved in response to, in the Times’ words, “an ugly history of harassment and violence at abortion including a shooting rampage at two facilities in 1994,” but neither provided any mention of the ongoing need for such protections or cited any discussion of the violence women seeking medical care at have faced at hands of anti-abortion activists in the past 20 years.

In fact, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called anti-abortion violence “America’s [f]orgotten [t]errorism,” emphasizing that content-neutral buffer zones are necessary because patients and doctors of health facilities that offer abortion services remain targets of violent attacks “from murders to arsons to bombings.”

Needless to say, no one from this group has joined the plaintiffs.

Understand that this is not a “one-time-deal.” The mission is to put bikers in front of EVERY abortion clinic in America on EVERY killing day until EVERY one of them is closed. We are going to send a message to the people who run these places that, as long as they are butchering these helpless children, Bikers for Life is not going away.

Before anyone jumps on me, yes, I’ve known plenty of bikers and many are quite nice and cuddly and don’t live up to the thuggish stereotype. But do you really think anti-choicers are recruiting bikers to stand in front of clinics to make patients feel more at ease?

If the Supremes do find for the plaintiffs it could jeopardize other types of buffer zones, including those around polling places and prohibiting certain activities around schools. Free speech isn’t a license to intimidate.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Suzanne on January 20, 2014 11:32 am

    I agree, Donna.
    I thought you might find Linda Hansen’s article over at the Tribune amusing. She is accusing Planned Parenthood of “promoting” abortion. http://eastvalleytribune.com/columns/east_valley_voices/article_88f13ede-7fd1-11e3-b849-001a4bcf887a.html

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