Monday, November 2, 2009

Free speech comes first


The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has, in my opinion, correctly overturned a Pittsburgh ordinance that all but prevented anti-abortion protesters from providing leaflets or other information to people entering abortion clinics. Pittsburgh enacted a measure that banned protesters from coming within 15 feet of clinic entrances while also requiring them to stay at least eight feet away from clinic clients within a 100-foot zone around the entrances. Basically, it all but barred the protesters from exercising their free-speech rights. I'm pro-choice on abortion, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with abortion opponents expressing their views to the contrary. If they go beyond leafletting, holding signs and trying to talk to clinic clients, then we have a problem. In other words, those protesters cannot block entrances, physically accost clinic clients or otherwise impede people from having legal abortions. But when they do those things, they're already breaking existing laws that can be enforced by authorities. They can, and should, be arrested and sentenced accordingly. But they should not be punished for, or prevented from, speaking their minds.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous dg said...

I normally agree with your views but am not sure on this one. To draw a comparison, campaigners must stay a certain distance from the polls on Election Day. I assume this intrusion on free speech is to lesson chaos or to allow voters to cast their ballot without undue pressure. Shouldn’t the same hold true for those making what is probably the toughest decision of their life?

November 2, 2009 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

You make a good point, dg. And to go deeper into the court decision, they said that either of the restrictions - staying 15 feet from the entrances and staying eight feet away from clients within the 100-foot zone - might have been OK along, they were too restrictive when taken together. I have no problem with them having to be 15 feet from the entrances. That still gives them the opportunity to present their materials while not impeding those who aren't interested in their wares. But anyone who physically tries to interfere with a woman's right to have an abortion should go to jail.

November 2, 2009 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Does this refer to space that is private property or public property?

Abortion is legal. If I were going to get an abortion, I'd want that purchase to happen the same way the rest of my purchases occur... privately and without commotion.

If you were accosted by posters showing half butchered cows hanging from a filthy chains in feces smeared cubicles on your way into THE giant eagle to buy steaks, chances are, giant eagle would have those people removed from their property.

I would suggest that abortion clinics be located in the middle of large parking lots so that women walking into them are protected by the buffer of private property surrounding the building.

Better yet, I think it would be funny to stand outside of a church on Sunday morning and hand out pamphlets showing the charred and disfigured bodies of witches who were burnt alive... or malnourished children, covered in flies, who were orphaned by AIDS because condoms are anti-catholic... or child pornography depicting the sex acts that priests perpetrated on young boys while the institution shuffled the predators around and spent a fortune to cover up the abuse...

Why can't we just let the free market determine the viability of abortion as a business?

November 2, 2009 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Another abortion-related story just popped up on the wire. eBay is now removing items that were put up for sale by anti-abortion activists who are trying to gather money for the defense of the loon accused of gunning down Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. One of the items was a Bible that had belonged to another loony who had wounded Tiller in 1993. So it appears that aborting fetuses is murder, but murdering a doctor who performed a legal medical procedure is OK in God's eyes.

November 2, 2009 at 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't we just let the free market determine the viability of abortion as a business?



No standards at all, huh?

November 3, 2009 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

That particular line was sarcastic...

But on second thought, why not?

I don't have any specific revulsion to abortion. I will never get one, because I don't have a uterus, but the practice doesn't bother me in the slightest.

It's a legal procedure in America and in the VAST majority of the rest of the world...

Furthermore, it's a choice. You can "opt-out" if you want... nobody is sneaking into people's homes in the dead of night and aborting their babies.

I think the free market does just fine on issues where you can choose not to buy the product or service.

But that's not the point of this blog post, is it? The point of the post is the rights of people to cause a scene and interfere with customers of a legally operating establishment. But the only real deterrent I can see is to have a buffer zone of private property surrounding the clinic itself and then disallow protesters on that property.

November 3, 2009 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous x anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton said she wants to put a sin tax on abortions. She said she wants to tax things that move and the things that doesn't move. So I guess she will be making money twice off of your dead baby.

I don't think it's fair to use taxpayers money to pay for someones abortion.

November 3, 2009 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Lori said...

Yeah! Free Speech. No matter what side of the fence you ride on being able to speak out how you feel is an awesome right.
Thanks Brant

November 3, 2009 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Good post, Brant. I agree with you completely.

Just a thought...do the protesters honestly think that they can change someone's mind when they are within several feet of the clinic? Think about it. The pregnant person has made the decision to have an abortion, has debated and possibly struggled with the emotional, ethical and religious issues, has made the trip to the clinic and is about to walk inside. At that point, is a scary picture going to deter her? Will a fire-and-brimstone diatribe in a leaflet make her say, "You know what? I want to keep this baby after all?" Let them protest outside the clinics. Just don't impede the person's right to go inside the clinics.

November 3, 2009 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PRIguy, your post reveals you are not familiar with the clinics, what happens there, and what does not happen there. You may think minds are not changed. Personal testimonies are quite to the contrary. No, I have no hard facts or statistics to back the statement. But, after being involved for several years, I know the experiences are contrary to what you understand, or perceive to be the case. Have you been involved, and/or heard testimonies?

November 3, 2009 at 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My ex-wife had an abortion at age 18 when she was unmarried, and she was able to live with that fact for nearly 40 years, raise a family and hold down a productive job while being a basically happy person. Then some born agains at work found out about her abortion and convinced her that she should have massive remorse and that every small setback she had experienced in life was God's punishment for her having taking the life of a fetus. To them, it didn't matter what she had accomplished or how happy she was, so they harrangued her till she changed so drastically that she was not the person I married.
I know those who experience these types of conversions often experience a 180-degree swing, but believe me, it did nothing for our family or our marriage.

As for whether minds really are changed by counseling, I'm of the opinion that if you really want an abortion, you'll get one. It's a personal choice, and the freedom that allows anti-abortion protestors to "counsel" people entering a clinic should also allow those entering to do so without hearing counseling they don't want.

If you believe your god will hold you personally accountable because you didn't try to intervene to save the lives of the unborn, then you should be standing at the drug counter counseling men to stop buying condoms and outside wedding chapels counseling the bride and groom to avoid "recreational" sex.

November 4, 2009 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

No, I've never been to an abortion clinic, nor have I seen what goes on outside. I was basing my comments on what seems sensible to me. If I'm making a decision that important, I'm not going to have my mind changed by someone standing outside the very venue I'm entering to carry out said decision.

Either way, I support free speech.

November 4, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

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