Should abortion clinics have buffer zones? | The Tylt
Should abortion clinics have buffer zones?
The buffer zones in Massachusetts were just 35 feet from the entrance. But they were found unconstitutional in 2014. Protecting free speech is important, but would 35 feet really have created a constitutional crisis?
“Thanks to the Supreme Court, we are back to a world where women seeking health care face a gauntlet of harassment just to see their doctor... Once again, protesters aggressively pursue patients, chasing them down the sidewalk, leading some patients to step into traffic to get away from the protesters who relentlessly harass women. This is not the quiet conversation the Supreme Court seemed to think is the norm. Aggressive harassment is the norm.”
Let's also remember that abortion clinics have been targeted by extremists in the past. Since 1977 there have been (deep breath here) 17 attempted murders and 11 actual murders, 41 bombings, 181 arson cases, 399 invasions, 100 acid attacks, 663 bioterrorism threats, death threats, kidnappings and assaults and 6,400 reported acts of violence (breathes out). The zones aren't there to curb people's speech, it's for protection.
The last thing we should do is go down a slippery slope with the First Amendment. If we can tell protestors there is an off-limit zone in one place, then what is to stop the government from using that precedent in nefarious ways later?
Yes, there has been violence in the past. But there are already federal rules around protesting at abortion clinics to protect against this. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) means protestors can't threaten or use violence, block entrances or cause property damage. These are sensible rules. Nobody is arguing against these. What is left are peaceful protestors who should be allowed to speak their minds.
As this 77 year old protestor put it: "I'm curtailed [by buffer zones].... I'm limited as far as my message of caring can go. And it is America, and as long as I'm gentle and caring, I should be able to walk with them a little bit further, 35 more feet, to where they're going in."