Protester buffer for abortion clinics considered

By: Britni McDonald Email
By: Britni McDonald Email

UPDATED January 15, 2014-- 6:15 p.m.

Alderwoman Lisa Subeck is working to create a buffer zone at the entrances of abortion clinics and other health care facilities.

"All patients going out to seek health care should be afforded the right to privacy and should be able to do it safely and freely and safe of intimidation and harassment," said Subeck.

Subeck's concern is the harassment of anti-abortion protesters. The buffer zone would require them to stay at least eight feet away from patients and employees.

"They can be very intimidating. They can really get into your personal space," Subeck.

Subeck, a former Naral Pro Choice WI employee, sees this as maintaining women's rights to access abortion care with privacy.

"We're facing incredible barriers. We're seeing that right being chipped away. This is one small thing we can do to help insure that they have the legal right to access abortion care but can do it safely and guarantee their safety while they're doing it," said Subeck.

"This is a crackdown on the right to free speech," said Vigil for Life board member, Laura Karlen.

But Karlen calls it an infringement of first amendment rights and unnecessary.

"It's a peaceful opportunity to offer women an alternative in time of crisis," said Karlen. "We say we have some options. Do you know about the alternatives and the resources that are available in this community? We'd like to help you."

"They're free to come over and talk or continue in without even acknowledging our presence," said Karlen. "We don't want our voice pushed out, which is what this public forum is trying to do."

"I think this ordinance provides the right balance between free speech and protecting peoples privacy."

Massachusetts currently has a law that keeps protesters 35 feet from abortion clinic entrances. But just today, the U.S. Supreme Court began considering arguments that it's unconstitutional.

The proposal will be introduced at a city council meeting on January 21st.


Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 --- 7:05 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Madison City Council member says she has majority support from her colleagues to create a buffer zone at the entrances of an abortion clinic and other health care facilities to protect patients and employees from protester harassment.

The proposal from Alderwoman Lisa Subeck comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider a challenge to a Massachusetts law that keeps protesters 35 feet from abortion clinic entrances. The state will argue its case before the high court Wednesday.

The State Journal says Subeck's proposal would ban protesters from being within 8 feet of a person on public property within a 160-foot-protective zone. Abortion opponents Vigil for Life says its volunteers respect the clinic's private property and parking lot, which already creates a buffer. The Madison Planned Parenthood clinic is one of four abortion providers in Wisconsin.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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