In the war waged between abortion-rights activists and anti-abortion protestors, the front lines are often in front of abortion clinics or medical facilities that provide abortions. Since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, legal abortion in the United States has been one of the single most debated laws in recent memory. The issue, to many, is both personal and political. When issues of morality are put aside, the debate turns to anti-abortion protestors who historically picket abortion providers and harass pregnant women. While many forms of protest are allowed in this country, these protests have special circumstances to consider. For the purposes of this analysis, we will assume that the majority of abortion protests take place in front of abortion clinics.
[...] Because of the bullying manner in which many abortion protests are carried out, there is reason to call into question the validity of the actions and most of all, the intent behind the protests. Hate speech infringes on the rights of others, and when abortion protestors scream obscenities, warn of severe divine judgment, and threaten abortion-seeking women, that infringes on the patients' rights to obtain a legal medical service. The abrasive nature of anti-abortion protests makes it necessary to regulate their time and place based on the fact that the current regulations on the manner of protests does not deter some from illegal violent and intimidating action. [...]
[...] Passersby are likely to see more than an abortion clinic: instead, a site symbolic and literal in a rhetorical, moral, and legal battle about what people can do with and to their own bodies. By drawing direct attention to abortion providers, protestors identify a clear villain and a focal point in the war against legal rights. Violence is Not the Answer The problem is that beyond just identifying a target, these protests have become violent in the past. In 1997 and 1998 several abortion clinics were bombed across the United States, one killing a security guard in Atlanta (CNN). [...]
[...] Protestors still have the right to exercise their freedom of expression through verbal or physical protest, but in front of clinics, badgering abortion advocates and those sympathetic to the cause (even if sympathetic out of necessity) is not the place for these people. This allows public access to the facilities that poses a grave risk to those inside. If this limitation option is not feasible, time restrictions should at least be placed to limit the intimidation. Karen Kubby agreed that Dan Holman had the right to protest, so long as it didn't interfere with her life as well as those of the clinic employees. [...]
[...] Protestors have also shot people at abortion clinics in the past. At an anti-abortion protest in 1993, a doctor was shot to death at point-blank range by a protestor who was supposed to be praying at the time the incident took place. The doctor, David Gunn, had been singled out that day by protestors holding signs that read “David Gunn Kills Babies.” The incident was even more disturbing to an employee of a nearby park who said after the shooting, the other protestors “looked like they were just happy” (Booth). [...]
[...] And because we are a theoretically free nation, to a certain extent, those vehemently against abortion should have the right to make their position known and their thoughts heard. When they disrupt everyday life and incite violence is when we draw the line between their civil liberties and those of the abortion seekers and providers. Thanks to a grim history, abortion opponents have little room for negotiation at this time. Scare tactics and propaganda have hurt their cause and weakened their message. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee