When it comes to saving the lives of unborn babies from needless, convenience-based deaths in a country that has legalized the slaughter, pro-lifers must do everything they can within the bounds of the law to influence women not to do it. Hearing the truth about the development of the baby, whether he feels pain or sucks his thumb, is one way. Standing outside abortion clinics with signs and kind but truthful words brings reality into focus for some of these women. They might feel ashamed for what they’re about to do, and do it anyway, or have a change of heart to keep the baby or give him up for adoption.
In this country, we have the right to assemble in protest. Through the years, abortion mills have managed to establish legal buffer zones to keep protesters from standing too closely to the clinics to influence women to protect their children rather than kill them. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down one such zone. An excerpt:
The justices were unanimous in ruling that extending a buffer zone 35 feet from clinic entrances violates the First Amendment rights of protesters.
Chief Justice John Roberts said authorities have less intrusive ways to deal with problems outside the clinics.
While the court was unanimous in the outcome, Roberts joined with the four liberal justices to strike down the buffer zone on narrow grounds. In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts’ opinion for carrying forward “this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”
The case began when Boston-area grandmother Eleanor McCullen and other abortion opponents sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester. At the latter two sites, the protesters say they have little chance of reaching patients arriving by car because they must stay 35 feet from the entrance to those buildings’ parking lots.
Abortion advocates claim the issue is about patients’ safety. “We are not going to give up our fight to make sure women have safe access to reproductive health care,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. “We will utilize all of the tools we have available to protect everyone from harassment, threats, and physical obstruction. I will work with the Governor, Legislature and advocates to explore additional legislative tools that also meet the court’s requirements.”
I agree that no woman seeking to kill her baby should be threatened or attacked. I disagree with the implication that protesting pro-lifers are a threat to these women based on violent acts by people who’ve claimed to be pro-life. In any case, the probability that a protester would threaten or kill a Planned Parenthood worker or patient outside the clinic isn’t high enough to justify denying pro-lifers a chance to stop the violence that goes on inside the clinic.
This is good news for the pro-life movement, but as Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, said: “While the ruling is great news for the free speech of anti-abortion advocates, this isn’t about us. This is about giving women the opportunity to be informed of all of their options and isn’t that what the pro-abortion movement is all about?…Because of this ruling striking down the buffer zone and upholding our constitutional rights, pro-life students across the nation will continue to be that compassionate lifeline for women in their most desperate hour, helping her to choose life for both her and her child.”