By the time this is published, this may very well be a moot point. As I am writing this, most reproductive justice advocates and anti-abortion activists have their eyes eagerly focused on a Supreme Court decision regarding buffer zones around reproductive health centers that provide abortion. Right now, those that exist are mostly local along with a few statewide buffer zones or bubbles. I think we can and should do better. I’m going to stay positive and presume the Supreme Court will see through the paper-thin veil that has been thrown in front of gory signs, roving bands of stalking, yelling fanatics and screaming, screaming everywhere. In spite of Scalia’s simpering and having the poster child being a “plump grandmother” who only wants to lovingly “counsel” these poor wayward girls, most images of antis outside a clinic are anything but.
So, hopefully the time has come to push our federal government to do something about the threats, harassment and stalking that happen every day outside doctors’ offices in America. We need a federal law standard for several reasons:
- Access to medical care should not be based on geographic area. We are, after all, citizens of the United States of America and should be guaranteed the same safety and rights throughout our country, regardless of which state we live in. We all know that most of the South is not exactly progressive or pro-active when it comes to protecting a woman’s right to make her decisions regarding pregnancy. A national standard is key.
- Antis don’t like to play by the rules. We have rules, both formal and informal, written and unwritten, about how we are expected to behave in society. While it varies over time and in different cultures, these expectations generally keep us from getting all Lord of the Flies when we have to be together in a small space. When I was out eating alone a month or so ago, I had the pleasure of being approached 6 or 7 times by the same gentleman (Hi Floyd) who tried to insist on buying me a drink, sitting at my table, getting my phone number even after I politely said no, I’m married, I’m trying to work and please go away. Finally, after time number 7, when he stood by my table lecturing me about how disappointed he was that I didn’t let him buy my drink, I lost my temper and told him to go away with many 4-letter words in the same sentence. Antis are the Floyds of the sidewalk. The only difference is nobody would disapprove of me getting angry when a man kept trying to insert himself in my space after being told “no” politely. If I was a woman on the sidewalk trying to get to the clinic, not only would Floyd’s behavior have been celebrated and encouraged, but it would also be filmed. Then, some extremist from Abolish Human Abortion would put it up on YouTube labeled Pro-Abort Violence and clinic harassers the world over could cluck their tongue about how persecuted they are. A buffer or bubble zone would give women space and hopefully the opportunity to lose some of the stalkers who have surrounded her and refuse to take no for an answer. We need a very specific, nationwide law that is enforced the same way in all fifty states.
- It’s not safe for anybody right now. What makes me think of this is the time I took my friend to clinic that fortunately had a fenced in lot. As I went to pull into the lot, two antis continued to walk aimlessly back and forth across the parking lot entrance, forcing three or four cars to slam on breaks as traffic backed up in a fairly busy street. They were supposedly just “crossing” in front on their way to the other side of the sidewalk but they took about 5 minutes to cross. What they were doing was causing traffic to stop so their preteen children could run in front of cars and shove packets of literature under the windshield wipers of the car, thus blocking the driver’s view. A five foot buffer around driveways would stop this completely while still allowing protesters to do their thing. If anybody actually wants the literature, they are free to park and go get it without forcing people to drive with part of the windshield blocked. In some locations, small children are left to play near busy roads or used as props to be thrust in the faces of unwilling women. Antis can continue to guilt, shame, yell, scream, wave their fetus porn and in general be huge jerks from 50 feet away. If women want to talk to them, (and why would they), the women can talk to them. The fetus porn will not be right in anybody’s face and the children will hopefully not be drug out as props when they can’t be shoved directly under the noses of women trying to visit their OB/GYN.
I’m pretty sure most antis stopped reading when I said that they should support a federal buffer zone as well. I wasn’t just poking them with my title, I actually have several reasons why they should support a federal buffer zone as well.
- Having a consistent standard nationwide benefits everybody. I know some of you antis are mobile. You shouldn’t have to learn new laws from clinic to clinic or state to state. If there is one, nationwide federal law, you can use time you would have spent researching buffer zone laws lying to women in CPCs.
- It would protect you from any violence aimed at clinic escorts or employees. There seems to be a theme running through the anti communities that many are concerned about having to take a bullet or some similar garbage for a clinic employee or escort when some wronged man who was not allowed to force his partner to give birth. or when some woman, so overcome with anger and grief because volunteers and medical professionals provided her with the health care she needed. will come back with guns blazing. Now, I think this is mostly garbage for a number of reasons. This has happened exactly never. When bullets fly outside an abortion clinic, they are coming from the gun of an anti-choicer. Also, these people haul their small children down to the front of these clinics where they claim deadly violence could erupt any second. I would call this child neglect or abuse. So please, if you really and truly believe a gun battle is about to begin, call CPS to remove the children of these parents who think that is an appropriate place for small children. But, if antis must persist with this silly myth then at least they should feel safer behind their buffer zones because it will be obvious who the evil “pro-aborts” are when all those people suffering abortion regret come to kill us.
- Antis might, just might, actually be able to counsel somebody rather than screaming, shouting and intimidating. I would think that antis would know by now that all their big, photoshopped fetus porn, even though it looks like B-grade horror movie fake blood is scary to most people, as is having to walk a gauntlet. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to want to stop and talk to you in the midst of the tunnel of terror you guys form in front of clinics. In fact, women are far more likely to run away from you into the clinic. Maybe if you had buffer zones, sat up tables and actually allowed women to come and talk to you there, they would feel like they had a little privacy and be a few feet away from screaming preachers waving fetus porn. On that note, you are probably also going to stop trying to herd women into your anti-choice clinics if you want to talk to them. They have made their own bed of deceit, lies, violations of privacy, stalking and broken promises that many women are naturally going to avoid them (and they should). If somebody is an anti-abortion protester who really is interested in talking to people on the sidewalk then they should want the chaos of fetus porn and trying to herd women off the sidewalk into a CPC far, far away.
Look, I get the argument that freedom of speech is a precious and protected right. I agree. We certainly don’t want to become a nation where people are afraid to voice unpopular opinions. I don’t think antis need to be confined to free speech zones like protesters were during the Bush II era. Well, I do think antis want us to become a nation where pro-choice people are silenced by law or by threats, but that’s another argument. That aside, we constantly balance the rights of freedom of speech against the right of everybody else to go about their life. I am not allowed to stand in the middle of the road and sing “My Old Kentucky Home” at top volume at 2 AM. I can’t write things that are clearly libelous or say things that are slanderous. I am not allowed to tell others about the private medical information of patients because it violates HIPAA. I can’t stand on the lawn of my friend’s cheating ex-husband and yell at him to stop screwing around and pay his child support.
Just as important as somebody else’s right to tell me I am a lying baby-murdering violent whore pro-abort bound for hell is, is my right to walk away from them and tell them to leave me alone. Freedom of speech also means that private citizens have reasonable freedom from unwanted speech, unwanted attention and unwanted physical contact on public streets. Usually, this is accomplished by walking on down the street from a stationary zealot screaming about the end of the world or women out whoring. However, when the zealots become mobile and follow you, or obstruct your right to move about as you please, we have a problem. When we start patting the Floyds of the world on the back instead of calling them out for being jerks, we have a problem. Actually, the Floyds of the world and their supporters have a problem and they are making more problems for all the rest of us.
None of what we are doing is working. FACE was a good law for stopping those stupid “rescue” people who chained themselves to clinics. They moved away from that nonsense to a more insidious plan of scaring women away. We in the pro-choice/pro-access camp do what we can by serving as escorts, writing our politicians, voting, giving money to abortion funds and taking friends or strangers to the clinic.
On the flipside of this, none of this garbage is working for the anti-choice crew either. Women are running away from them instead of to them. They have to lie and mislead women to even get them to darken the door of their Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Numbers of abortions are down but I don’t think anybody has shown a link between fetus porn, sidewalk bullies and unconstitutional legislation in lowering the number of abortions. I’m sure there a few good-hearted people out there who really do just want to talk to women they think are making a mistake and want to encourage them to choose another path, or people who want to kneel and pray quietly. These are the people who should be screaming, yes screaming, for buffer zones because they are the only thing to cut down the chaos, screaming, crying, stalking, pushing and harassing that currently goes on.
The Floyds of the world need to understand the word “no” and if they don’t, the law needs to make them understand the word “no.” And for the record, I don’t believe some random anti-choicer would so much as take a nap for me, much less a bullet.
Good grief. For the safety and sanity of us all, please give us a federal buffer zone.