My head is spinning on this one, folks.
You’ve likely heard of McCullen v. Coakley. Or if that doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps you’ve heard that the Supreme Court is hearing a case that could cost Massachusetts abortion clinics their buffer zones, and potentially impact similar buffer zones across the country. If you haven’t heard about this, trust me, it’s going on right now. Or don’t trust me. Google that shit.
A buffer zone around an abortion clinic is an area in which protesters are not allowed, and these buffer zones may overlap with public areas like sidewalks. In Massachusetts, the zone is 35 feet. An image in the New York Times shows the zone for one Planned Parenthood. It’s, like…itty bitty. Super itty bitty. Anyone entering the Planned Parenthood via that entrance is going to pass right through or very close to legal protest areas, and they’re going to have ample opportunity to converse with protesters…if they choose to do so. If they don’t want anything to do with protesters, they can be assured that their walk to the clinic doors will at least be physically unimpeded.
The kerfuffle being raised by abortion protesters before SCOTUS is that buffer zones restrict free speech. All of the hypotheticals, the what-ifs…it all boils down to us nasty baby murderers TAKING AWAY THEIR FREEZE PEACHES! Because jebus help them if they can’t be all up in a client’s business until the second the client enters the clinic. They gotta have those last seven seconds to have their one-sided “gentle and peaceable conversations about abortion” with a client who has repeatedly told the protester to leave them alone. And apparently their free speech isn’t as effective if they can’t be close enough to smell the sin emanating from a client’s skin.
Oral arguments started yesterday. I’ve been reading SCOTUSblog to keep up with the case (yay for In Plain English!). All sorts of brain-sploding arguments are being made – and not just from McCullen and her lawyers. In one instance, Justice Antonin Scalia expressed that he doesn’t think that abortion protesters are protesters. He is quoted as saying that “they don’t want to protest…they want to talk to women about abortion.”
Are you fucking kidding me?
It drives me up the wall when protesters protest that they aren’t protesters, that they’re “sidewalk counselors” who “just want to have a conversation with women about their options”:
THESE are not conversations about options:
These are not conversations about options:
Don’t kill your baby! is not a conversation about options.
The abortionist doesn’t care about you – he only cares about your money! is not a conversation about options.
A real man wouldn’t let his woman have an abortion! is not a conversation about options.
Black woman who abort are participating in the genocide of their race! is not a conversation about options.
These are protests against abortion. The protesters are there to protest abortion. They want to protest it right into client’s ears, into their faces, over their shoulders. They want to protest it through their car windows and into their hands and at their companions.
This isn’t about free speech. No one is worried that the government is “banning” this kind of speech because the government finds it disfavorable. Maintaining this law that has been on the books since 2007 isn’t going to lead to the government banning free speech in other public areas in new and dystopian ways. Protesters currently have the right to spout their message. They still have access to patients. They are not being oppressed. Striking down buffer zones won’t change a thing for protesters except they’ll get to do all these things while they invade a patient’s personal space.
Upholding the constitutionality of buffer zones would mean that that clients in Massachusetts won’t have to walk through the middle of “conversations” like this to get in to see a medical doctor:
This video was taken outside of a clinic in Louisville, Kentucky. As you can see, Kentucky doesn’t have a buffer zone law in place to protect abortion clinic patients, employees or volunteers. You can learn more about this video at EverySaturdayMorning.com