With the Supreme Court having struck down the Massachusetts "Buffer Zone" law around abortion clinics to prevent violence (indeed the ruling of SCOTUS was unanimous in that the law was an arbitrary violation of the free speech rights of anti-choice protesters) the first Saturday without the 35-foot distance between protestors and clinic workers and patients at a Boston-area clinic got ugly and fast.
At its height, the protest drew about 70 people — three times more than the average Saturday morning crowd, typically the largest gathering of the week — a turnout inspired by Thursday’s US Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Massachusetts law that since 2007 had kept them outside the yellow line.
“I have a friend that had an abortion 45 years ago. I saw what she suffered, and that’s why I come,” said Mary O’Donnell, 82, of Arlington, clutching a handful of pamphlets, rosaries, and medals. “To let them know there’s another option.”
The Supreme Court ruling, she said, “just gives us the chance to be a little bit closer, to let them know that we care.”
Yes, show them your caring and compassionate side by intimidating and berating them.
Many of the young women entering the clinic, however, appeared upset by the crowd, and hustled through with their heads down, some clutching the hands of their partners.
“You have to walk through this circle of people staring at you and talking to you and judging you,” a young woman named Julie said after leaving the clinic. “It’s very intimidating.”
Julie, who was not at the clinic for an abortion and asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy, said that as she walked in, one person tried to hand her pamphlets and another shouted to her: “Fetuses have fingernails and a heartbeat.”
To her, the Supreme Court’s ruling felt hateful to women.
“Sitting in there today, I was thinking about all these protesters outside, and what if somebody just threw a bomb in?” she said. “That’s what was going through my mind when I was getting my blood pressure taken.”
Not like it hasn't happened before, folks. But in this new era, pro-choice Americans are adapting.
Marty Walz, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said the clinic will now need escorts to shepherd patients through the crowd every day it is open, not just on Saturdays.
“We know there’s horror at the court’s ruling,” Walz said. In anticipation of that ruling, Planned Parenthood received about 100 applications from people volunteering to work as escorts, she said. In the first 24 hours since the ruling, they were overwhelmed with nearly 200 more.
Since the ruling, said Walz, Planned Parenthood has received many complaints from patients about the protests, and more patients than usual have canceled appointments.
“Our patients and staff are subjected to this extreme, aggressive behavior, but that’s what the Supreme Court thinks is appropriate for the women of this country,” Walz said.
You have a constitutional right to harass women at abortion clinics, you know. Unanimously decided by the highest court in the land.
You know, until all the clinics are gone.