Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone


Apparently a number of US states are going to be required to get rid of their buffer zones around abortion clinics. This is ridiculous. Nobody should be allowed to go onto the property of abortion clinics with the intent to do harm. The people who go up to women and tell women that they are murderers and are going to hell should not be allowed anywhere near their victims. Those women are already struggling emotionally. They are dealing with something that nobody wants to have to deal with. The US government should not be allowing this. It is their job to protect the citizens. Those women deserve their protection. 

There is so much wrong with how the government in the United States deals with sex and contraception. It is scary to read what has been going on. Companies allowed to break the law by not offering birth control for its employees because they are religious, schools that don’t teach children about sex and punish them with expulsion for getting pregnant as a result of poor education, abortion clinics being shut down, women being forced to go through torture and jump through hoops to get an abortion even if it’s medically necessary, and now this. I’m so glad I live in Canada.

Canada is not perfect. It can be hard to find an abortion clinic if you don’t live in one of the bigger city centers. While it is legal to have an abortion up to 24 weeks most clinics will only allow it up to 12 weeks without a doctor’s say so (which means there needs to be a medical reason to have an abortion), then it is possible to get one at up to 20 weeks. But, even with an Evangelical Prime Minister, it is unlikely that the “Pro-life” lobby will have any where near the same success as the US lobbyists have. 

Here, the “Pro-life” protesters have to stay across the street from the clinic. It makes them very easy to miss and it makes it impossible for them to hold massive protests. They can’t do much in the way of confronting people either. They can only hand pamphlets to people who want them and they can only discuss abortion with people who approach them. The most obnoxious thing about their protests is their signs. And even the country’s most conservative universities don’t like dealing with the “Pro-life” groups. 

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19 responses to “Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone

  • Elizabeth

    “people who go up to women and tell women that they are murderers and are going to hell”.
    You’ll find many people in the pro-life movement who would agree that this is unacceptable. It transgresses the bounds of common courtesy; I sincerely doubt that it changes anyone’s mind; and it reflects badly on those of us who believe that using compassion and understanding is the best way to engage with women seeking an abortion.
    I imagine you might agree :).

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    • hessianwithteeth

      The problem is the people who will cross the ethical line but not the legal one. The people who’ll break the law will do so with or without the buffer line. But many will toe the law to avoid going to jail, but they are willing to harm already hurt women without considering the consequences of their actions. That’s why buffer zones are a good thing.
      If you don’t agree with abortion, fine. But make sure that you know why a woman is having an abortion before you tell her what she is doing is wrong. That is the only way to avoid doing undue harm.

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      • Elizabeth

        I agree that there are people who are willing to cross the ethical line, and I disagree strongly with their actions. I don’t think it helps anyone. However, many who are against abortion have a deep compassion for abortion-seeking women, and see side-walk counselling as the last chance to not only save the unborn child, but also to counsel the woman against an action that they believe she will regret, and that also has the strong potential to adversely affect both physical and mental health. Counselling must be done respectfully, non-confrontationally and in love, but for the good that these people do, I oppose buffer zones.

        Of course, if I held the opinion that abortion is not something that needs to be prevented, then I would probably concur that buffer zones are a good thing. So ultimately I think it comes down to (a) how strong your feelings on free speech are, and (b) what your stance on abortion is.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          The only people who should be doing any counseling are professionally trained councilors. Otherwise there is too high a risk of harm.
          From my experience, all the protesters offer is judgement. They don’t bother to ask the woman what her experiences are. They don’t ask why she feels the need to get an abortion. And they don’t bother to consider that people don’t tend to want to get an abortion. It’s generally a last option. The women are scared and emotional. They are doing something that they never thought they’d have to do. Many of them are already shamed about their actions. Shame that they shouldn’t be made to feel. If the protesters did what they say they want to and merely talked to women and offered support, I’d have no problem with them. But instead they insult women and offer more judgement. They offer more pain than anything.
          And most women feel relieved after having an abortion. Most don’t suffer any negative effect. Health-wise or mentally. It seems to me, the ones who suffer after having an abortion are the ones who experience shame from family and community.

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          • Elizabeth

            I think we can agree that there is a right way and a wrong way to do side-walk counselling. Or, if you like, a wrong way and a not-so-wrong way). I would actually be content to see all side-walk activity end if there was a way to guarantee that all abortion-seeking women received unbiased and informative counselling prior to making an appointment for an abortion. By that I mean that they are presented with all their options, including detailed information on how to access those options, and information on foetal development and the abortion procedure, so that they can make a fully informed choice. By the personal accounts I have read, it seems unlikely that this is what is actually presented to abortion-seeking women at medical or abortion clinics. I wonder how many women who felt it was their last option felt that way because they were never told that were people and organisations who would support them in all facets of their pregnancy and beyond.

            As to the health risks, I dislike simply posting a list of links and the material shouldn’t be too hard to find if you look for it, but there is evidence for both physical and mental adverse outcomes; it certainly warrants continued investigation.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            In Canada, when a woman finds out she is pregnant, the doctor asks her what she wants to do. If the woman already knows, then the doctor giver her all the information she needs to know what to expect. If she chooses an abortion, then the abortion clinic has councilors to evaluate the women. Each woman is evaluated before the abortion and after it.
            From what I have read, it’s much the same in the US, minus the fact that most women don’t find out they’re pregnant at the doctors.
            I have done plenty of research. All you have to do is google abortion stories. Yes, some women find it difficult. But I noticed that most of the “I wish I hadn’t done it” stories were on christian and anti-abortion websites. Secular websites that just offer women a way to tell their stories and build a community don’t tend to have many negative stories.Most women on those sites are relieved.

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          • Elizabeth

            I have read many abortion stories. Yes, most of those that I’ve read are from women who regret their abortions (although I have explored the Thanks, Abortion! website). For a non-religious, non-antiabortion example, here is a thread on a pregnancy/baby community website:

            http://www.bubhub.com.au/community/forums/showthread.php?256701-Have-You-Had-An-Abortion

            And the common themes are that women who regret their abortions (a) felt unsupported in their pregnancy and/or pressured into having the abortion, and (b) experienced a lack of proper counselling; counselling that may have revealed their reluctance and empowered them to choose a different course.

            I am cynical about counsellors within abortion facilities. They have a vested interest in persuading (or failing to dissuade) a woman to abortion. I’ve read accounts of ‘evaluations’ that have been carried out. Ideally counselling could be provided by a neutral organisation with no connection to the abortion industry.

            Of course there will always be wide differences between the experiences of different women. But can we agree that no woman who has doubts should feel pressure to have an abortion?

            If I went to a doctor, and replied that I wanted an abortion when they asked, do you think that they’d explore it further? Or would it just be a case of giving me the number to call and wrapping it up there? Honest question – I wonder how many doctors would trouble to take it further.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            I would agree that no women should feel pressured to have an abortion, but they also shouldn’t feel pressured not to. They should feel that the choice is theirs and they have support and love no matter what they choose.
            When a woman says she wants an abortion, the doctor says “are you 100% sure or are you on the fence” ( or some variation of that). If the woman says she’s sure, they accept her choice. If she is unsure, then they educate her on her options. But they aren’t to encourage her one way or the other.

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          • Elizabeth

            When a doctor obtains informed consent, part of that consent is discussing all the options (including the details of any procedures) and risks, including the outcome of not having a procedure. It’s not seen as encouraging the patient the patient to choose a particular course action, but it’s legally necessary to make sure that the patient’s choice is made with all the available information. Why should abortion be any different? It should be clear from the number of women who say that they felt pressured, weren’t sure, didn’t know their options, wanted someone (anyone) to change their minds, that just accepting the woman’s choice is not sufficient. Until careful and thorough counselling is integrated into the process of getting an abortion, I will continue to support sidewalk counselling.

            Of course, this is really a side-issue to whether or not you think abortion is wrong. And that is the core issue that will play a large part in dictating how you feel on this.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            People who get abortions will get the same information that everyone else gets for other medical procedures. They have to fill out the paperwork and sign their name. Here, they need someone with them to co-sign a document saying that the person getting the abortion will be taken care of. What the woman will need to do before, during, and after the procedure is available. But it’s up to the woman to read it and ask questions if she doesn’t understand. It’s all made very easy.
            And what about the women who are forced to keep children they don’t want? What about their mental health? What about the deaths of all the women who have been so desperate as to have gotten back ally abortions? Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop women from having abortions. It just ensures that the ones who do will be more likely to die. Why punish women for being desperate? And what about women who have medical issues? What if the baby will die regardless? What if, without an abortion, the mother will die too? Abortions aren’t wrong, but condemning women to death because they don’t share your beliefs is.

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          • Elizabeth

            Here it is incumbent on the doctor to ensure the patient understands what they are about to undergo. After all, it is the doctor who has the knowledge and experience, not the patient. We don’t expect patients for other procedures to do the research themselves.

            I see a real care and concern for women in need coming through what you’re writing, and it really resonates with me. I care deeply about women who are struggling with pregnancy in difficult circumstances, and I’m working through my local pregnancy care centre to support these women. The difference is that I think abortion is so morally unsound that it should not be offered as a solution.

            The Turnaway study reported some interesting findings regarding women who were unable to obtain an abortion. The vast majority actually did not regret having their child.

            The back alley abortion argument and abortions necessary to save the life of the mother are two topics that I’m planning to write posts on in the future, so I will leave those for now.

            “Abortions aren’t wrong” – now you’ve reached to the core of our disagreement on the issue!

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          • hessianwithteeth

            It is the doctors job to make sure that the patient understands everywhere. But just because the doctor goes through everything with the patient and asks “do you understand,” doesn’t mean the patient actually does. Doctors go through everything with the patients, but that doesn’t mean every patient will feel prepared. But other than the shame that is aimed at a lot of women who have abortions or even conciser them, the need that women feel to keep it a secret, I don’t know what could cause women to feel unprepared. They have everything they need to be prepared, but we live in a culture that says “don’t look at that, hide that, nobody can know.” How can you ever be prepared for something when you feel the need to keep it a secret?

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          • Elizabeth

            I would rather ask; how can you ever be prepared for abortion when society is intent on convincing you that it is no more than a minor medical or surgical procedure, with no ethical implications or long-lasting emotional impact?

            I would think it not unlikely that many women feel so directed down the path of abortion that they become convinced that it is their only choice, regardless of their personal feelings are. When it’s the ‘sensible’ choice, to avoid ‘ruining their lives’, they may feel guilty or unrealistic in considering other options.

            It doesn’t seem like doctors do go through everything with pregnant patients considering abortion. Which is kind of my point. Perhaps some doctors are too intent on toeing the pro-choice line to properly explore their patients motivations and individual factors?

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          • hessianwithteeth

            https://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/women_who.html
            This is a great sight. It talks about the facts of who has abortions and why. It also has stories from women who don’t regret it.

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          • Elizabeth

            Thank you for that link. I was familiar with most of the figures, but it’s always good to be reminded.

            Something I would like to suggest to you, if you’re interested in trying to understand the pro-life perspective, is to take anything you read about abortion and put into the context of infanticide. This reflects the pro-life position that the unborn child is full human being with consequent rights. So when – from a pro-life perspective – I read that financial lack and unreadiness are considered good reasons for having an abortion, it is akin to reading that financial lack and unreadiness are good reasons to kill a newborn or a toddler. (This whole approach is often referred to as ‘trot out the toddler’ – you may have come across it before).

            I read their page about pyschological wellbeing after an abortion. It’s been a while since I read the literature, but my conclusion was that it was inconclusive. It’s an incredibly complex area. However, there has been more research coming out lately to suggest that there are adverse mental health outcomes. I can chase down the links, if you like. I did notice that the most recent paper cited by NAF on their page was from 1997 – which is now 17 years old.

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  • Eldritch Edain

    I wonder what the property issues are? I would hope that an institution could eject someone from their private property, which is no violation of the US Constitution because the ejection wouldn’t be a govt action.

    However, in my city Planned Parenthood is directly off the sidewalk, which is public property. The First Amendment’s protection of freedom of expression is quite clear – banning someone from a public sidewalk is unconstitutional.

    Free speech means one will be offended. So, while pro-choice, I think SCOTUS ruled within constitutional bounds at least as it pertains to public property.

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