A small group of pro-lifers from Pittsburgh challenged the city’s buffer zone Wednesday in front of a federal judge.
The city has a 15-foot buffer zone around abortion centers that prevents pro-lifers from peacefully counseling women about alternatives to abortion. Sidewalk counselors often serve as the last line of hope for preborn babies and their mothers before an abortion appointment.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Nikki Bruni of Verona testified that while she “occasionally” is able to get her message across to women entering the Planned Parenthood location on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, the yellow, spray-painted buffer zone restricts her and others from having in-depth conversations with women about alternatives to abortion.
Bruni, campaign director of 40 Days for Life in Pittsburgh, a twice-a-year, anti-abortion event, said Planned Parenthood security guards prevent demonstrators from entering the zone, even if it is to walk across to get to the other side.
… U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon heard more than three hours of testimony and arguments before giving both sides until Dec. 19 to reach a compromise. If they can’t, the attorneys will have 30 days to file legal arguments before she rules.
Women deserve to know all the facts about abortion and its alternatives. Buffer zones are damaging, not only because they restrict pro-lifers’ freedom of speech, but also because they restrict women’s rights to hear about alternatives to abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court is getting a lot of attention as religious groups and business owners of faith battle the Affordable Care Act HHS Mandate.
But the high court is about to hear another important case related to abortion and sidewalk counseling.
It involves buffer zones around abortion centers. The justices will look at a Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion centers, supposedly to “protect” women from pro-lifers who are trying to offer them a better option.
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby recently pointed out a serious flaw with these buffer zones — they not only restrict pro-lifer’s free speech but they also “buffer out” women’s right to hear the information that pro-lifers offer.
The (Massachusetts) law, signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007, makes no allowance for peaceful or quiet protest. It doesn’t permit an individual to simply stand in silence, holding a sign or offering pamphlets. It forbids approaching even a willing listener who would like to hear — who might be desperate to hear — about a realistic alternative to abortion. The 35-foot boundary is marked with paint, and anyone who steps over it can be sentenced to as much as 2½ years in prison.
For years, the abortion industry has been pushing for buffer zones to help them hide the facts about abortion. They don’t want women to know the truth that abortion kills a baby and harms many women physically and emotionally. They don’t want women to know that help is available for them and their babies.
More than ever before, pregnant and new moms have access to counseling, temporary shelter, diapers, maternity clothes, and much more. But abortion providers are trying to prevent women from knowing that it’s there.