Supreme Court ruling creates urgent need for abortion clinic escorts

Yes, actually, they are. They apparently didn’t enforce the existing 2000 law and then turned around and argued that, therefore, the 2000 law was ineffective and they required more stringent measures.

In arguing for the 35 foot buffer zone, Mass. argued it had tried less restrictive laws but that those had failed to work. As the Supreme Court noted that claim doesn’t stand up,

Though respond­ents claim that Massachusetts “tried other laws already on the books,” id., at 41, they identify not a single prosecu­tion brought under those laws within at least the last 17 years. And while they also claim that the Commonwealth “tried injunctions,” ibid., the last injunctions they cite date to the 1990s, see id., at 42 (citing Planned Parenthood League of Mass., Inc. v. Bell, 424 Mass. 573, 677 N. E. 2d 204 (1997); Planned Parenthood League of Mass., Inc. v. Operation Rescue, 406 Mass. 701, 550 N. E. 2d 1361 (1990)). In short, the Commonwealth has not shown that it seriously undertook to address the problem with less intrusive tools readily available to it. Nor has it shown that it considered different methods that other jurisdic­tions have found effective.

The legislative testimony preceding the 2007 Act revealed substantial police and video monitoring at the clinics, especially when large gatherings were anticipated. Captain Evans testi­fied that his officers are so familiar with the scene outside the Boston clinic that they “know all the players down there.” App. 69. And Attorney General Coakley relied onvideo surveillance to show legislators conduct she thought was “clearly against the law.” Id., at 78. If Common­wealth officials can compile an extensive record of obstruc­tion and harassment to support their preferred legislation, we do not see why they cannot do the same to support injunctions and prosecutions against those who mightdeliberately flout the law.

Given the vital First Amendment interests at stake, it is not enough for Massachusetts simply to say that other approaches have not worked.


Get the cops to do their jobs when they aren’t just targeting hippies and you won’t need one.

I’ve been to all three clinics in Brookline and have been escorted through a sea of rabid “side walk counselors.” By a coincidental work schedule change I narrowly avoided being in Preterm the day John Salvi murdered Shannon. The layout of Beacon Street and the skill by which these protesters adhere to details of the law allows them to continue to harass and intimidate with no recourse for victims. Watch Murder on Abortion Row and see what it’s like there. Better yet, become a clinic escort; we need a lot more now.


Or maybe we could just get people to stop violating women’s rights through oppression and intimidation. In the meantime, put you money where your mouth is and volunteer.


I’ve stayed out of this because there are already a lot of people in the conversation, but since I have some points to make that no one else has yet made, I will go ahead and speak up. Here’s the biggest problem I have with the SCOTUS ruling: It directly opposes the already existing “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act” (F.A.C.E.) which has been in place since 1994!

Here’s why: The ruling for MCCULLEN ET AL. v. COAKLEY refers to the people approaching women seeking legal medical treatment as “petitioners”. It grants them the right to have personal contact - something they are not guaranteed, and in fact, that previous law opposes. It does it by characterizing them as needing to be protected much more than the women seeking medical treatment at the clinics.

“While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petition­ers are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposi­tion to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conver­sations with women about various alternatives.”

It excuses the direct contact by saying that their message cannot be “correctly” received at a distance.

“It is thus no answer to say that petitioners can still be seen and heard by women within the buffer zones. If all that the women can see and hear are vocifer­ous opponents of abortion, then the buffer zones have effectively sti­fled petitioners’ message.”

That’s the major argument in favor of the “petitioners” here. Not can they speak, but how can they give their message best? (to make the audience most receptive)

Because SCOTUS has decided that they can only do this through firsthand contact with women (politely and quietly, which is not guaranteed by the First Amendment - you don’t get to choose how close you’ll be to your target audience), they have decided to ignore HIPPA laws and the FACE Act, which specifically prevents, “Physically stopping people as they are trying to walk toward an entrance or through a parking lot,” for any reason - even a polite conversation.

Sure you can protest, but you can’t physically block women, touch them, make it hazard for them to visit a facility, or trespass - and all that stuff just covers all the sweet people behaving as though they are “petitioners” not “terrorists”. Sure they can try to distribute literature, but they need to do it from the side, not as an excuse to block a woman’s access, and then start a conversation.

SCOTUS claims, “The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests.” and even suggests that, “Massachusetts could also enact legislation similar to the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, 18 U. S. C. §248(a)(1), which imposes criminal and civil sanctions for obstruct­ing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services.” In other words, they suggest that MA reproduce the existing federal law (F.A.C.E.) that is currently under-enforced (ever since Poppa Bush took office).

The problem MA is having is that no equivalent state law exists to cover the actions of the protesters, and the feds fail regularly to become involved. They just want a prosecutable law in place that will keep people safe. So, they’re trying to create a safer environment, and now they’re being opposed.

Justice Roberts decided to claim that, "By its very terms, the Massachusetts Act regulates access to “public way[s]” and “sidewalk[s].” meanwhile ignoring that the existing FACE Act does the same thing if a person is blocked or touched, that can’t happen - even on a public sidewalk - as a woman approaches a reproductive clinic. He’s basically forgotten the intent of the F.A.C.E. act, and only cares to protect those petitioners. Seriously this is from him:

“It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas. Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir. With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks. There, a listener often encounters speech he might otherwise tune out.”

In other words, he’s more than happy to have these “petitioners” be given a right they really don’t have. That would be the right to force themselves on people who are trying to - in private - visit their doctor for a legal medical service unobstructed. He wants them to be obstructed, and wants to ensure that these voices are heard at these locations. A reasonable person would say that due to the history (in addition to bombings, and murders by gun, in 2012 women’s medical records were stolen in KS and used to threaten their privacy), there is ample reason to state there is every reason to provide women seeking care at reproductive clinics with guaranteed safe passage by law. Women aren’t required to listen to the petitioners by law. They’re only required to let them speak, and even then, not at any close range.

Let’s not forget about the lesbian who was just beaten up by a police officer for getting “too close” to a protester who she was verbally arguing with. I thought distance was supposed to be a good thing.


How does this affect “free speech zones” around political events?

It seems to me that this rules them unconstitutional, and protestors can protest wherever they want.

So it’s, religion doesn’t kill people, people kill people?

So does this mean we can stand on the steps of Catholic churches to engage in personal, caring, consensual conver­sations with women and children about various alternatives to putting themselves in the hands of sexual predators?

I thought not.

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So glad you decided to add your two cents after all.

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I shouldn’t have to carry a fucking gun just to get legal medical care. That’s not okay!

And the fact that it you felt it an appropriate response to this means there is something wrong with our culture. So much wrong.

Guns are not free, btw; will you purchase it for me? Great! Now women are not only expected to spend $500+ on abortion the (not counting the waiting period and missed hours at work; or the gas if you don’t live close to a clinic; and all the other money we must spend for reproductive health care); now we’re expected to spend several hundred dollars on a gun merely so we can get legal medical care; and if you don’t feel automatically comfortable with using the gun, then you must spend more on training.

How fantastic it is to be a poor woman in this country trying to obtain basic, legal medical care!

I am SO TIRED of guns being this blanket response, as if everyone can afford one, or is able to carry and properly use one without any training (and even with training, not everyone is going to be capable, and we shouldn’t expect everyone to be capable of defending themselves with a gun; it’s not reasonable).

This is part of society’s gun lust problem. IT IS NOT AN ANSWER, and it should never be the answer to receiving basic medical care. We live in a first world country and now I’m being asked to carry a gun just to receive basic medical care in peace?! What the fuck is wrong with you?


Yeah. I think it’s a mistake to attack whatever ideology a person adopts in order to rationalize shitty behavior. In fact, I think it’s a mistake to engage on that level at all. That ideology is a distraction that removes us from the actual problem at hand. That ideology is simply an affectation. They will use it to justify behavior that literally runs counter to the ideology. The problem is the person.

Where do I sign up?

Not asking you to carry one, not asking you to pay for anything. Definitely don’t want to do anything that will make that decision harder for you. Escorts, security guards, I’m perfectly happy to entrust with that duty.

If the police and the courts would treat Christians who commit assassinations, bombings, and arson the way we treat Muslims who do the exact same things, we wouldn’t have to worry about taking up arms ourselves. These people are terrorists in every legitimate sense of the word. They have a longstanding history of violent extremist behavior, and they use threats and intimidation against civilians in order to advance a political agenda- Because God Told Them To.

Carrying a rifle into a department store or a deli is stupid, irresponsible, and paranoid. Terrorists aren’t going to blow up a WalMart. Nobody needs to play John McClaine.

Walking into a situation which religious fanatics with a history of violence actively consider to be a war zone is a different situation. There is a real, demonstrable chance that another one of these people will open fire or plant a bomb again. Somebody with a penchant for IEDs threatening your safety is pretty much one of those exceedingly rare times when lethal force is an appropriate response.

As far as I’m concerned, the National Guard should be stationed outside these clinics to ensure patients’ safety. If the government won’t step up and do their goddamned job, then who will?

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Not urgent to you, and I hear that is your opinion, and I accept it as your opinion.

Maybe someday everyone will just accept that every one else has a right to choose (their own opinions) and that right is derived to the degree that it is respected in others. In the meantime, the need for clinic escorts in Massachusetts is much more urgent than it was last week. That’s my opinion, and the opinion of the people runniung the clinics. We all hear your opinion. Pardon us for ignoring it.

Do you really think that commenter has productive solutions to offer?

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I’m equally fine with the question either being taken literally or as a rhetorical embellishment for the other responses.

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Well now, the FACE Act also covers religious establishments, so it would be interesting to see what the result of petitioning at said location for said purpose would be with SCOTUS.

Contact your local women’s health center or national organizations such as NARAL or Planned Parenthood.

This is the equivalent of asking people to donate all of their money to charity because the government is pissing the welfare money down a hole.

Are more volunteers going to “get people to stop violating women’s rights through oppression and intimidation”? The police can certainly do a lot on that front, if they were willing! What is a “volunteer” going to do here, exactly, to actually solve the problem? And why are you so willing to give the police a pass for being unwilling to enforce the law when it comes to abortion clinics?