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New Chicago Law Aims To Protect Abortion Patients, Providers

Posted by Audiegrl

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Chicago Tribune/ Hal Dardick—Anti-abortion activists would have to respect the personal space of people entering medical facilities in Chicago or risk a $500 fine under an ordinance a City Council committee approved Wednesday.

The measure drew criticism from abortion opponents and praise from agencies that provide abortions.

Sponsoring Ald. Vi Daley, 43rd, said workers and patients going to Near North Health Center — a Planned Parenthood facility that provides women’s health services, including abortions — have complained of conditions outside the building.

“Women seeking any kind of medical service are routinely harassed,” Daley said. “They are photographed, and they are followed.”

The ordinance would establish a 50-foot buffer outside the entrances of all health care facilities. Within that zone, no one could come within 8 feet of another person without consent to pass out fliers, display signs, vocally protest, educate or counsel.

Many cities and states have established “bubble zones” around patients approaching clinics since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law in 2000. Chicago’s ordinance would be less restrictive than the Colorado one, where the 8-foot bubble zone encompasses 100 feet from clinic doors.

But Beth Kanter of Planned Parenthood of Illinois said her group’s clinics “have seen a significant surge in the size and viciousness of the protesters” since the May 31 fatal shooting of a doctor who provided late-term abortions in Wichita, Kansas.

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Filed under Abortion, Culture, Hate Crimes, Law, Supreme Court