This is a guest post submitted by Oubli. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know her from her comments on our posts and a past article she wrote. She does lots of work in reproductive justice, and we appreciate her support.
Articles by Eric Veronikis, The Patriot News, captured all of our attentions. The first article included concerns about implementing a buffer zone, like this:
”This type of buffer-zone legislation normally is upheld in court so long as it is applied to everyone, including abortion-rights protesters, said Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.”
All of the quotes below are from the second linked article by Eric Veronikis..
Access and the Dangers of Clinic Protestors ~ by Oubli
Clinic Access WIN in Pennsylvania!
Council is charged with protecting access to health care for all without passing judgment, Councilwoman Sandra Reid said.
“This governing body has no legislative power to tell anyone what to do with their body,” Reid said. “We’re just here to assure that those persons seeking medical care can get there without being detained or harassed.”
Planned Parenthood offers an array of services and too many people assume that women visiting the clinic are going there for abortions, Councilwoman Susan Brown-Wilson said.
Everyone has the right to enter a health care facility without being interrogated, Brown-Wilson said.
“Women have a right to choose for themselves. And people really don’t know what [women] are going there for. They assume that everyone is going there for abortions and that’s not true,” she said. “Planned Parenthood isn’t just about abortion, it’s also about health care and providing other medical services.”
Rev. Susie Stanley of Mechanicsburg applauded council for adopting the buffer zone bill.
Stanley, who said her daughter escorts patients to abortion clinics in other cities to help get them there safely, Stanley said the argument for free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to harass and intimidate others.
“Sometimes free speech can turn into intimidation, harassment and sadly that is what we see sometimes at these health centers,” Stanley said.
Protesters who violate the buffer-zone bill will be fined $50 for the first offense. A second offense within five years would bring a $150 fine. A third offense within five years would carry a fine of $300 fine. A fourth and subsequent offenses would have fines of no less than $300 and could include up to 30 days in jail.
What do you guys think of the fines for violating the buffer zone? Fair, impractical or too lenient?