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City Passes Ordinance to Create Protective Zones Around Abortion Clinics

By Camela Furry in News on Oct 8, 2009 2:00PM

2009_10_07 Tiller tribute rally.jpg
Photo by dollbabytina from a tribute to Dr. George Tiller at Thompson Center earlier this year. Tiller was shot and killed allegedly by an anti-abortion activist May 31st. Since his death there has been a "significant surge in the size and viciousness" of anti-abortion protests according to Planned Parenthood
Yesterday City Council voted 27-11 approving an ordinance requiring anti-abortion activists to keep a distance of 50 ft. away from clinic entrances and medical facilities to create a protective zone for patients and employees. Within the so-called bubble zone, "no one could get closer than 8 feet to pass materials, display signs, protest, educate or counsel another person without their consent" according to the Sun-Times. Activists who violate the ordinance risk a $500 fine.

During the Council meeting protesters chanted in the hallway and a crowd of demonstrators gathered around the front doors of City Hall on La Salle St. Pro-Life activists denounced the approval of the ordinance as a violation of their First Amendment rights and vowed to fight.

The ordinance was championed by Ald. Vi Daley (43rd) who told Chicago Breaking News workers and patients going to the Near North Health Center, a Planned Parenthood location, have complained about conditions, "Women seeking any kind of medical service are routinely harassed" she said, "they are photographed, and they are followed."

Ald. Brian Doherty (41st) who cast a "no" vote told the Sun-Times, "I am pro-life. I do not apologize for that. And I am Roman Catholic. They tried to frame it as as safety issue and it's not." He said the issue belongs in the U.S. Supreme Court, or the Illinois General Assembly.

The ordinance was patterned after a Colorado law (requiring a stricter protective radius of 100 ft.) which has the approval of the U.S. Supreme Court.