Before I address the consistency argument (Hello? Occupy Wall Street anyone?) let’s look at the numbers.
Murder – 8
Attempted Murder – 17
Bombings – 42
Arson – 181
Attempted Bombing/Arson – 99
Invasion – 391
Vandalism – 1490
Trespassing – 2218
Butyric Acid Attack – 100
Anthrax/Bio-terrorism Threats – 663
Assault and Battery – 198
Death Threats – 426
Kidnapping – 4
Burglary – 183
Stalking – 530
So can we stop pretending that “pro-lifers” aren’t a threat to these clinics, their staff and their patients, because they are – and they have the track record to prove it. If you haven’t watched Rachel Maddow’s recap from last night, you should. Here it is. Particularly chilling is the video of “pro-life” activists reenacting/celebrating the anniversary of a shooting (and killing) at an abortion clinic – complete with using a snare drum to simulate the gun fire. Aren’t they precious.
These “pro-lifers” (use of scare quotes is deliberate, since they aren’t pro- ALL- life.) also videotape the women entering the clinic as well as their license plates. Why would they do that if their stated purpose is simply sidewalk counseling? I just cracked myself up.
And can we start making Supreme Court Justices go on field trips? Because it’s obvious they have never witnessed what goes on outside of an abortion clinic. Perhaps we can simply demand that they look in a mirror, since the buffer zone around the Supreme Court (one of the most publicly owned areas in the country) is massive. Why does that buffer zone exist? Why do they afford themselves and the people who work in that building protection from sidewalk counselors? Why shouldn’t they be counseled when they arrive at work? For that matter, why can’t we have sidewalk counselors at polling sites? At military funerals? Why are these petitioners/sidewalk counselors considered harassers and a threat when “pro-lifers” – who have a history of harassment and violence are not? Consistency, please.
Yeah, we have to mandate those field trips. If we did then perhaps Justice Alito wouldn’t have waded into Twilight FanFiction:
Consider this entirely realistic situation…a woman enters a buffer zone and heads haltingly towards the entrance. A sidewalk counselor, such as petitioners, enters the buffer zone, approaches the woman and says, “if you have doubts about an abortion, let me try to answer any questions you may have. The clinic will not give you good information.” At the same time, a clinic employee as instructed by the management, approaches the same woman and says, “come inside and we will give you honest answers to all your questions.” The sidewalk counselor and the clinic employee expressed opposing viewpoints but only the first violated the statue.
Haltingly? Is he writing Harlequin Romances now? Perhaps they approach “haltingly” due to the intimidation and verbal abuse about to be hurled at them. And if he had ever stepped foot inside one of these clinics he’d know that the staff counsels every patient before the procedure and that not every women who goes in for an abortion ends up getting one. Most do, because they flippin’ already thought this through. But, you know, sheesh, women. Can’t trust them to know their own minds. Bring on the pamphlets!
Which brings us to this doozy:
These aren’t protesters, the court said. They’re sidewalk counselors. They hand out leaflets and offer “an outstretched arm.” They “seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives.”
Wow. That’s a rose-colored idea of what can happen on the ground, when a woman is trying to walk into a clinic — to get routine health care, or a cancer screening, or, yes, a legal abortion. Personal, sure. Caring, perhaps. But how consensual can a conversation be when someone is standing in your way and sticking a leaflet in your face?
And what reality are we about to return to?
“This notion that somehow we were eliminating all these wonderful compassionate conversations between protesters and patients that persuaded women not to get abortions — that’s a fiction,” said former state representative Paul Demakis. In his district in 1994, John Salvi III had walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic and shot and killed receptionist Shannon Lowry. Salvi shot and killed receptionist Lee Ann Nichols in another abortion clinic that day.
“I can’t say that it [peaceful conversation] never happened,” Demakis went on. “It certainly did not happen on a regular basis. What the protesters did was — in very aggressive, even offensive ways — to interfere with and to intimidate women going into health clinics to exercise their right to choose.”
Consensual? Did I mention the need for Supreme Court field trips? Hell, how about we let them stay in their buffer zone and watch YouTube videos of these sidewalk counselors and their consensual conversations in action. These “pro-lifers” aren’t there for counseling; they’re there to intimidate in the hopes that their tactics will scare women away. But the women keep coming, don’t they? And that’s the biggest problem facing “pro-lifers”. They can’t stop the women. And they never will.
But let’s get back to this ruling, which is what I promised in my opening sentence. Okay. Fine. Public places cannot bar protests. May I suggest we begin with removing the Supreme Court’s buffer zone and allow sidewalk counselors? No? Then are we now allowed to approach customers entering a bank, restaurant, department store, etc. and counsel them on why they shouldn’t patronize these businesses? Why weren’t Occupy Wall Street “petitioners” considered to be counseling Wall Street? Consistency, people! What’s even better… people can petition outside these businesses with lies. Abortion causes breast cancer = banking here gives you herpes, or people can counsel people heading into chemotherapy treatment that cancer is god’s will, or counsel people out of having a colonoscopy, prostate exam or mammogram because… fill in the blank with whatever nonsense you want.
Basically, here’s where I end up. If sidewalk counselors, whose main purpose is to stop patients/customers from patronizing clinics/businesses is okay… then it has to be okay across the board. If you think the Supreme Court (and other entities) deserves a buffer zone due to their specific circumstances then why not abortion clinics?