Extremists Disrupt Abortion Rights AND Communities

Extremists Disrupt Abortion Rights AND Communities.

 

There are of course extremists involved in most political movements, especially those that broach on religion. There should be no room in the law for those who exploit civil and human rights to harass, harm, or bully others with conflicting values!

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How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it

Its all about being civil, participating in a dialogue with out damnation and abuse or trying to force your beliefs onto another!

Feet in, Arms out

A few weeks ago, the marvelous Lindy West over at Jezebel wrote an excellent post called, “How to be an Atheist without being a dick about it.” As someone who has been the target of my fair share of dickish Atheists in my life, I really appreciated it. However, the behavior of dickish Atheists pales in comparison with some of the behavior of my Christian brothers and sisters. So, dear people, I give you some recommendations on how to be a Christian without being a jerk and turning everyone off to not only Christians, but to Jesus. (I’m going to try to cut back on the language in the event that some Christians who need to hear this are turned off by the swears. Let’s see how I do.)

1) Stop threatening people with hellfire and damnation. Nobody likes it. It achieves approximately nothing so far as spreading the…

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6 Ways to Have a Conviction (without Being a Jerk)

Jayson D. Bradley

As I write this, my government’s been out of commission for 13 days. Locked in an epic standoff, the two polarized parties running Washington would rather run us into the rocks than find a middle ground.

One only need visit Twitter, Facebook, or even their local church to see that the poisonous polarization in Washington is being played out regularly in every American city. Somehow we’ve come to a place where every political, theological, or ideological discussion becomes a zero-sum game—I can’t win unless you lose.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

While it’s important to have convictions, they don’t have to be held in a way that undermines public dialog and civility.

Here are some tips to help you hold tight to your principles without being an insufferable jerk.

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Bullying is a matter of Perspective

Bullying, its everywhere. Every facet of society, from the school yard to the office, to the side walk. In many cases it can be a matter of perspective. Some people don’t even know that they are doing it. But they are. Standing outside an abortion clinic offering council or an alternative to a woman exploring her options sounds fine. But in reality there is an obvious element of intimidation at play. To think otherwise is a bit ridiculous.

These women are already struggling with their situation, having to face a gauntlet of judging faces and being handed literature that demonizes them while they are trying to enter a building is not peaceful.

I support society’s right to protest for the things that they believe in. We live in a democracy and as such people have a right to voice an opinion and everyone should be heard. But just because your views don’t match mine doesn’t mean that i should stand outside your home or work once a year for 40 days, giving you flyers that tell you that I’m right and why as you are until you eventually concede.

Bullying, pure and Simple

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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?

Buffer Zone Laws

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

What do we want? When do we want it?

We want these protests to be moved away from right outside the clinics and some form of regulations to be imposed on the graphic nature of the protest signs.

In 2005, the Australian Democrats purposed a law that would institute a buffer zone around abortion clinics in Victoria. Meaning that anti abortion protestors would have to keep a set distance from the front doors of the clinics while they were actively protesting. This would ensure safe and free passage in and out of the facilities for workers and women seeking abortions alike. There are no other states have decided to pursue similar legislation even though they support the legal access to abortion.

Different states of America have instituted buffer zone/bubble zone laws to protect people from being persecuted if they need to access the clinics. In South Africa it is a criminal offense obstruct access to a facility for the termination of a pregnancy, imposing a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment.If different governments from around the world can recognise that there is a need for these protest groups to be seperated from the immediate proximity of the abortion clinics i find it ridiculous that ours can’t. The passions for both sides of this issue run just as high in Sydney as they do in the US. We need to recognise that the law is obligated to step up and do something about this especially if they support the legislation that makes access to abortions legal!

I’d like to think that the signage issue is kind of obvious. I do not think it is appropriate for people to be sporting pictures of mangled foetus’ in a public space, with out warning or some kind or at least a council issued permit. This imagery is flaunted, thrown in the face of any person that the anti abortion protestors can confront. You can make a point with out visually assaulting innocent bystanders (especially children). So many of these protestors are more about shocking and shaming their opposition rather than effectively communicating a succinct point of view.

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