This prolifer understands that if she wants to make a change she can protest with out bullying. It gets a bit preachy towards the end, but i really respect the fact that she recognises that anger is getting in the way of a constructive dialogue. When people are abusing each other the issue is put the side and no one gets anywhere. A protest is about representing a message, not forcing your beliefs on to others by way of intimidation and harassment.
In Australia, we do not have a constitution that guarantees us the first amendment rights that so many protestors in America jump behind when questioned about what they are doing standing outside abortion clinics protesting as aggressively as they do. We do have however, our own constitution that provides us with 5 basic freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. The first 3 from that list would suggest that in a protest situation the protestors are merely exercising these freedoms and as such have every right to be there expressing themselves, and for the most part they do. However as soon as other parties start feeling harassed, intimidated or bullied, there are other laws that are in place to protect them from being persecuted, and as such the law is obligated to intervene. Protestors should be free express themselves, but not at anyone else expense. One persons liberties do not out way anyone else’s. Offensive signage and stand over tactics are protest strategies that cross the line when it comes to public decency and civil liberties.
Those of us lucky enough to live in a democracy understand the true power of civilised debate. Our governments function by looking at issues, discussing them, and negotiating law and policy based on the best interests of their constituents. Whilst the actual parliamentary debates might not be as “civilised” as we would like them to be, they do take place in accordance to certain protocols that assure that everyone involved is respected and has a chance to express their views, thoughts and beliefs rationally. Essentially it is a dialogue designed to argue one point of view against another.
I have been looking at a lot of content over the internet, searching for anything related to our cause and i keep hearing people coming back to freedom of speech, “you cant stop me from protesting, i have freedom of speech”. Yes we understand you are entitled to certain civil liberties that do give you the right to protest abortion. But they are CIVIL liberties, and as the name would suggest they need to be exercised with a certain degree of civility.
So if you do decide to protest an issue please make sure to be civil about your liberties!
I have been thinking about this for a while in relation to anti-abortion protest groups and in this case i have come to the conclusion that the answer to this question for the most part no. While you might be trying to represent the other side of the issue basically your drawing more attention to the conflict than the issue. There are a lot of issues that society will never agree on unanimously, and protests are a valid way to voice your objection to one. But a direct counter-protest may not always be the most effective, especially concerning the abortion debate. While you may be there in support, the patients aren’t taking the time to ask your intentions. Even if you bring supportive, signs the patients are usually not taking the time to read them. Your just part of the loud angry mass that are screaming at one anther, every body and nobody. Think about it in terms of bullying on the playground at school, there are two ways you can chose to handle a situation like that. You can either confront the bully with the same behaviours they have been inflicting upon you, usually that ends badly for one party; or you can mediate the conflict. Discuss the terms of peace, rationally so that it is fair for both sides. Needless to say attempting to end conflict by responding with the same behaviour is usually the less desirable path.
There are plenty of alternative initiatives to counter the anti-abortion protest groups. I have supplied two effective links below:
Voice of Choice – www.vochoice.org
What we really need is an intervention from the law. Other cities around the world have instituted buffer zone laws that set a safe zone around the clinics, and/or patients and staff ensuring safe and unobstructed entry for all. These laws do not infringe on the protestors civil rights. With a buffer zone in play anti-abortion protestors are still able to publicly voice their objections to abortion just not in a way where they are given the opportunity to bully, goad, or intimidate those who don’t agree with them.
If you check a dictionary for what it means to be a bully you will find that it means “to use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.” If we take this definition and compare it to protest which is “to express an objection to what someone has said or done;” or “to declare (something) firmly and emphatically in response to doubt or accusation” there is an obvious distinction between the two. Protestors protest an issue, bullies bully people. Our anti abortion protestors are dancing the line between these two definitions, but for the most part they are bullying a particularly vulnerable demographic as well as people who work to support them in their choice.
In this case the protestors superior strength is their numbers, they are an organised GROUP who mass together to intimidate people who do share their beliefs (the INDIVIDUALS or COUPLES entering the clinics). Their graphic signage is designed to shock and offend. However they are offered to the public with an explicit lack of context. We do not know the stories behind these images, for all we know their was a complication with the particular foetus being portrayed and it would have been still born anyway, in which case it is safer for the mother to have it removed.
A protest can be effective anywhere there are people to listen to the message. Getting someones attention doesnt require you to be offensive or intimidating others so they accept your perspective. Harassment is Illegal, in any other situation the police would be obligated to step and move the group on, but they dont. So why are these strategies allowed to persist?
In the United States, three U.S. states have passed “buffer zone” legislation, which can create either a “fixed” area around a medical facility or a “floating” area around patients and staff, below is a list of them and how they came about.
Colorado: 100 feet fixed and eight feet floating. After being enacted in 1993, the “floating” provision was first challenged in 1995, when three pro-life activists suggested that it violated their right to freedom of speech. Although upheld in a trial court and by the state’s appeals court, the Supreme Court of Colorado would not hear the case, so the petitioners took their case against Colorado’s floating buffer law to the Supreme Court of the United States. In February 1997, considering its ruling against a floating buffer zone in the case Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, the Supreme Court requested that the appeals court of Colorado re-examine their state’s law. It was upheld again, and in February 1999, the Supreme Court of Colorado agreed with the holdings of the lower court. In the 2000 case Hill v. Colorado, the “floating” provision was again appealed before the federal Supreme Court, where it was upheld 6-3.
Massachusetts: 35 feet fixed buffer zone enacted in 2007. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office defended the constitutionality of the statute in the federal court proceedings. In May 2007, Attorney General Coakley testified before the Legislature in support of the passage of the legislation. The buffer zone law was signed by Governor Deval Patrick and took effect on November 13, 2007. Attorney General Coakley successfully defended the statute before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which affirmed the constitutionality of the Commonwealth’s buffer zone law on July 8, 2009. The 2007 law changed the 2000 law, which provided for an 18 feet fixed buffer zone and six feet floating buffer zone. Enacted on November 10, 2000, this law was struck down by U.S. district judge Edward Harrington soon afterward because he felt there was an unacceptable discrepancy in the floating buffer zone being applied to pro-life protesters but exempted from clinic workers. The law was restored in August 2001 by a federal appeals court.
Montana: 36 feet (11 m) fixed buffer zone and eight feet floating buffer zone.
Several local governments in the United State have, at some time, also passed similar municipal ordinances:
Buffalo and Rochester, New York: 15 feet fixed and 15 feet (4.6 m) floating around four clinics in two cities. The buffer zone resulted from an injunction issued by the U.S. district court in response to a federal lawsuit filed against 50 individuals and three pro-life organizations, including Operation Rescue, by three doctors and four clinics. The law was challenged in the 1997 case court case, Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, by pro-life activist Paul Schenck. The case came before the Supreme Court, where Justices, in considering Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, ruled 8-1 to uphold the constitutionality of the fixed buffer zone, but not that of a floating buffer zone.
Melbourne, Florida: 36 feet fixed buffer zone around a clinic, 300 feet (91 m) floating buffer zone around patients, and 300 feet (91 m) buffer zone around the homes of the clinic’s employees. The injunction also regulated noise levels outside of the clinic and prevented demonstrators from displaying images which could be seen from inside. It was upheld in full by the Supreme Court of Florida but came before the federal Supreme Court in Madsen v. Women’s Health Center in 1994. The Court upheld the fixed buffer zone, and the noise regulation around clinics and in residential areas, but rejected the floating buffer zone, residential buffer zone, and prohibition against displaying images.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 15 feet fixed buffer zone and eight feet floating buffer zone. The statute was approved by the Pittsburgh City Council in December 2005. In 2009 a three judge appeals court panel found in Brown v. Pittsburgh that while either a fixed buffer or a floating buffer alone is constitutional, this combination of buffers is “insufficiently narrowly tailored,” and thus unconstitutional.
Vallejo, California: fixed buffer zone which requires protesters to remain across the street from a clinic enacted in 1991. After the Supreme Court of California upheld the injunction, the case was taken to the federal Supreme Court in October 1994, but was remanded to the state court due to the recent Madsen v. Women’s Health Center decision. The California Supreme Court again upheld the buffer zone in July 1995. On March 17, 1997 the case reached the federal Supreme Court as Williams v. Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo, and Justices voted 6-3 to decline the case.
West Palm Beach, Florida: 20 feet buffer zone and noise ordinance approved in September 2005. U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks found the law to be an infringement of the right to free speech on April 11, 2006, and ordered that it be enjoined, but upheld the regulation against excessive noise.
Chicago, Illinois: 8 foot floating buffer zone within 50 feet of clinic entrance enacted in November 2009.
Source: Wikipedia – Legal protection of access to abortion, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_protection_of_access_to_abortion