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Abortion Protestors: Man v. Machine

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  1. Place
  2. Violence is not the answer
  3. Time
  4. On the road
  5. Manner
  6. Taking it personally
  7. Necessary restriction
  8. References

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). [...]

[...] Not only is violence against those providing and seeking abortion hypocritical; the very thought of injuring others for the sake of a cause is unjustifiable. Private property should also not be violated and this problem is cause to recommend limits on these protests. If a message is not accepted and laws are not changed to the protestors' liking, perhaps they should consider careers in public policy rather than public intimidation. Ultimately, scare tactics and violence will do nothing but diminish a cause's original message and intent, and those whom they hope to reach will be further alienated. [...]

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