New York’s 15-Foot No Speech Abortion Bubble Zone Bill Denounced as “Unconstitutional”
By Hilary White
NEW YORK, September 29, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Speaker of the New York City Council announced last week a bill that would remove legal protections for those engaged in peaceful protests outside New York abortion facilities. Speaker Christine Quinn, head of the New York City Council told gathered news media that the timing of the Clinic Access Bill, to coincide with the start of the pro-life 40 Days for Life campaign, was "very much on target."
The bill proposes to set up a 15 foot "bubble zone" in which pro-life demonstrators and sidewalk counselors would be forbidden to speak with women entering abortion facilities.
"Obviously it is completely offensive," Quinn said at a media conference, "for people to get in the way of a woman’s right to access health care."
At the press conference announcing the introduction of the bill, Speaker Quinn was surrounded by the representatives of the New York abortion lobby, including NARAL Pro-Choice NY; Dana Czuczka, Associate Vice President of Governmental Affairs of Planned Parenthood New York; and the Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Besides making it illegal to "follow and harass" anyone within a fifteen foot area around abortion facilities, the bill would also allow prosecutors to bring charges without having to prove that defendants had the intention of preventing a woman from obtaining an abortion. The city says that under the new legislation, "proof of such intent would no longer be required for prosecution." The bill will also allow a clinic, and not simply an individual (as stipulated by current legislation), to file a harassment complaint.
The bill is being denounced as unconstitutional by the pro-life movement. Some pro-life advocates charge that the bill would leave pro-life demonstrators who pray regularly outside abortion facilities vulnerable to being harassed by clinic operators, who would not be obliged to prove the protestors were interfering with women wanting to enter the facility.
Chris Slattery, founder and president of Expectant Mother Care-EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, called the bill "a bogus law" that would "empower ... abortion facility staff to actually become rouge, vigilante prosecutors and persecutors of local pro-life life-saving and life-changing sidewalk counsellors".
The bill, he said is a "vicious assault on the freedoms of speech, and assembly."
The real motivation for the abortion industry’s support for such a bill is money, Slattery continued. The presence of pro-life demonstrators and pro-life crisis pregnancy centers "often hurt abortion businesses by successfully and peacefully dissuading abortion patients from entering their sites when offered free help, education, medical care, and housing."
The 40 Days for Life campaign, which has drawn the fire of New York legislators, runs in 177 cities in 45 states and sees prayer vigils outside abortion facilities and on the streets across the country from September 24th to November 2nd. Slattery and a legal team from 40 Days for Life have vowed to fight what they call an "unfair, biased and blatantly unconstitutional bill."