Provider anonymity: compromised
Abortion advocates in Concord have always been very clear at hearings on abortion regulation that anonymity of providers is a serious concern. Somehow, facilities that proudly offer abortion in the name of “full spectrum of reproductive health services” want to keep under wraps the names of the people who actually “do” the abortions.
What about places where abortions are done by in-house staff rather than by “circuit riders”? A medical practice would self-identify as an abortion facility simply by putting up the signs prescribed in SB 319. A private physician doing abortions would have to choose between staying low-key, without any signage, and putting up signs that would be magnets for pro-life public witness.
The neighbors 25 feet away would love that.
I suspect there are many more places where abortions are done besides the handful of businesses that advertise the fact openly. In these days of chemical abortions, more medical providers might be deciding that prescribing a cheap abortion-inducing drug in-house is better than referring abortion-minded women to another business. That would make the provider’s office a “reproductive health facility” under SB 319. Anonymous? Not anymore.
Violence against abortion providers is as abhorrent as the violence they commit on defenseless human beings. Abortion lobbyists have been diligent about guarding against the former, claiming that publicizing the names of providers invites violence. If that’s true, it makes no sense to put up signs saying “here I am.” That’s what a buffer zone does.
Shifting the scene of public witness: if not the sidewalk, where?
Have the senators talked to any neighbors of known abortion facilities, like PP in Manchester or the Feminist Health Center in Concord? Have they heard firsthand from abutters about what they think of the prospect of pro-life witnesses coming to their sidewalk?
And then there are other venues for witness and/or protest. A comment on yesterday’s blog post came from a reader in Florida who used to live in the Granite State. She recalled an effort in Florida 25 years ago to “buffer” the First Amendment.
“A pastor … held a news conference, and told them if they chose to pass this buffer, and they were forced to stand in front of other businesses like the Rite Aid, or a Deli, then they would take their graphic signs and stand outside of Disney World. Within one hour of that press conference he received a call from the state commission saying they shelved the issue.”
That was a quarter of a century ago, and graphic signs are not in my toolkit, and New Hampshire doesn’t have a Disney World. Still, the idea holds up. Pro-life witness is going to take place one way or another, and the state can’t rope off every possible high-profile venue.
Pro-life witness won’t be silenced with a buffer zone, merely displaced.