Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Campaign afoot for buffers at clinics (FREEP THIS POLL) ^ | Tuesday, December 28, 2004 | Pat Beall

Posted on 01/10/2005 6:14:38 AM PST by alkaloid2

WEST PALM BEACH — No vote has been scheduled on a proposed buffer around West Palm Beach medical clinics. No public hearing has been held.

No matter: An organized pro-buffer letter-writing campaign already has begun to flood City Commission President Kimberly Mitchell's mailbox.

At issue is whether keeping protesters away from clinics performing abortions, as well as their patients and workers, will promote safety and, perhaps, damp accusations and counter-accusations of harassment.

The proposal comes from the Presidential Women's Center, which asked the city in August to consider a 30-foot buffer.

Clinic owner Mona Reis and Bob Van Reeth, assistant West Palm Beach police chief, both cited an uptick in potentially violent confrontations.

The letter-writing campaign comes as commissioners are being asked to consider draft proposals.

Of the five West Palm Beach commissioners, Bill Moss favors the 30-foot buffer.

"I don't think it is such an inconvenience to ask them (protesters) to stand back 30 feet," Moss said.

Based on safety concerns, Jim Exline is also leaning toward approval. Ray Liberti thinks the ideas on the table, which include an 8-foot "bubble" around clinic clients, are lacking.

"I think it has to be expanded to meet any fairness factor," he said.

Mitchell is against it. The commission president does not downplay the potentially volatile mix of patients and protesters.

"We want to make it as safe as we can," she said.

But Mitchell questions whether a new regulation would do more harm than good.

"I think creating this additional ordinance is going to pull the city into a national fight that we don't need to be in," she said.

Massachusetts and Sacramento, Calif., have faced high-profile legal challenges over buffer zones.

John Regan, president of Palm Beach County Right to Life Inc., said any local buffer ordinance curtailing a protester's right to speech, for instance, would be immediately challenged.

"The city would definitely be sued," Regan said.

The city has already lost one round with abortion opponents.

This year, West Palm Beach police said they would stop arresting abortion protesters for trespassing while they stood on a strip of land between the sidewalk and road outside the Presidential Women's Center.

The center subsequently asked the city to consider imposing a buffer. Pre-written post cards from the center are among those in the letter-writing campaign.

Mitchell, though, said clinics have other law-enforcement tools at hand.

They can ask for injunctions against specific protesters. Police can still make arrests based on harassment.

"We may be shooting a cannon to take out a gnat," she said. "Maybe there is something else we can be doing — maybe sending another police officer down there on Saturdays."

Dr. Joan Waitkevicz, one of two doctors who wrote Mitchell urging adoption of the buffer, disagrees.

The semi-retired internist — who does not perform gynecological procedures — escorts patients into the Presidential Women's Center.

"Cab drivers turn around and leave" sometimes rather than drive by a crowd of protesters, she said.

"Imagine a picket line outside of Good Sam's (hospital) where picketers grab people's walkers," said Shirley Harmon, another volunteer escort. "The city would never allow that."

KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; abortion; abortionismurder; anitchoice; babykillers; constitution; firstamendment; freedomofspeech; freep; freespeech; poll; priorrestraint; protest
Please freep the poll on the left side of the page. "Should a buffer zone be established around the abortion clinic? "
1 posted on 01/10/2005 6:14:39 AM PST by alkaloid2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: alkaloid2


2 posted on 01/10/2005 6:27:55 AM PST by msp2004
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: alkaloid2

"Imagine a picket line outside of Good Sam's (hospital) where picketers grab people's walkers," said Shirley Harmon, another volunteer escort. "The city would never allow that."

Agreed. Grabbing people against their will is assualt and battery so it's already illegal. Don't need a new law for that. The only thing this law would do is save these clinic volunteers from having to hear dissent against abortion. This is precisely the reason we have the first amendment: no one wants to hear opposition to what they do, and their knee-jerk reaction would be to get the government to ban it. Any guess what the ACLU sould say if the issue here was anything other than abortion?

3 posted on 01/10/2005 7:40:46 AM PST by edwinland
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: alkaloid2
Service Unavailable
The server is temporarily unable to service your request. Please try again later.
4 posted on 01/10/2005 8:43:36 AM PST by sionnsar ( || Iran Azadi || -- No governor from THIS vote!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson