CHICAGO (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-lifers who peacefully pray outside of Chicago abortion facilities and offer resources to pregnant women and to families may soon find themselves being fined under the new mayoral administration.
Though Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson ran on a leftist, soft-on-crime agenda and previously supported defunding the police, there’s at least one group of people who he plans to send law enforcement after — sidewalk counselors.
The pledge to strictly enforce Chicago’s “bubble zone” ordinance is part of Johnson’s recently-released report on his mayoral priorities, which also include funding free chemical abortion drugs. Johnson became the mayor after defeating Paul Vallas in April. The pair were the top vote getters in a February election that knocked off incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Johnson’s administration pledged to “enforce Chicago’s ‘bubble zone’ ordinance, which bars individuals from approaching within eight feet of a person within 50 feet of an abortion clinic if their purpose is to engage in counseling, education, leafleting, hand billing, or protest.”
The executive director of Pro-Life Action League, a longtime staple in pro-life advocacy in the city, criticized the mayor’s agenda.
“Brandon Johnson wants to make Chicago into Abortion City, USA. We know that more than half of abortions are actually unwanted, but Johnson is pushing abortion on disadvantaged women anyway, instead of offering them the practical help they need and want so they can choose life for their babies,” Eric Scheidler told LifeSiteNews via email. “He doesn’t even want these women to get help from pro-life Chicagoans, as he is promising to step up enforcement of the Bubble Zone law that police routinely misapply, and over which the city has already been sued.”
“Looks like we might be headed back to court to fight for our simple right to help women in need,” Scheidler said.
The Seventh Circuit upheld Chicago’s ordinance in 2019 in a challenge brought by sidewalk counselors with Scheidler’s group, but the three judges, which included then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett, seemed to suggest the pro-life sidewalk counselors could possibly win at the Supreme Court. The panel was bound to uphold a 2000 Supreme Court ruling.
The use of police to enforce the ordinance stands in contrast to other pledges made throughout the report to decrease the use of law enforcement. His team pledged “[n]o disparity in arrests between LGBTQ+ and cisgender heterosexual populations, decreasing interactions with police,” and “ending police harassment and neglect [of ‘LGBTQ+’-identifying people].”
When it comes to immigrants, the mayor promised to make sure that “any new technology, surveillance, and policing infrastructure does not jeopardize immigrant communities.”
“The City of Chicago should acknowledge and repair the historical harms from traditional policing, reimagine what policing is and how policing is done to ensure the development of community led approaches to co-creating public safety, which will result in the needs of people in communities being met,” the city’s leader promised in his report. It is part of the goal to “invest in a holistic approach to public safety that does not rely on police.”
Mayor Johnson also wants to ensure that everyone who wants an abortion has one without any barriers, which includes “fully fund[ing]” the city’s “Office of Reproductive Health” and running “public awareness campaigns around Illinois and Chicago’s laws and regulations that ensure access to an abortion.”
He also wants to enroll more people on Medicaid so the state can pay for their abortions. The city should also “direct funding to abortion providers outside of [Chicago public health department] and abortion support organizations such as Chicago Abortion Fund and Midwest Access Coalition that is consistent with the current and growing need” and ensure “medication abortion” drugs are freely available.