Unintended consequences?

model signThe fifteen New Hampshire senators who voted for the buffer zone on the first pass might want to consider this before the second go-round later this week.

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.




Author: Ellen Kolb

New Hampshire-based writer, activist, hiker.

4 thoughts on “Unintended consequences?”

  1. I’m really confused about how any of this can work… At the hearing, it was mentioned that this buffer would essentially make it impossible for ANYONE to be in the zone for longer than a minute (passing through). This would mean that even family / “friends” of the unfortunate women going into the clinic to have abortions / get abortifacients would not be able to congregate in the area (which could backfire for the industry given how many abortions are coerced by family and “friends”)? The sign you depict above seems to indicate that their own hired security personnel would not be able to patrol the premises? The sign also says no picketing / demonstrating…does prayer fall under one of these?

    1. Prayer is definitely meant to be included as “demonstrating.” Any employee or contractor of the abortion provider would be exempt. So would any escorts chosen by the abortion-minded woman. The “sign” I sketched out uses the exact language prescribed in the bill. The zones wouldn’t apply until signs go up. Care to bet that Manchester’s #1 abortion provider already has signs made & ready to post?

      1. Do you think that Planned Parenthood will post those signs right at the curb in front of Greg Salt’s house? Do you think that Rite Aid will have any concerns about people praying in front of their property?

      2. I can only guess, since the general public will have no right to know in advance what the exact placement will be: under the language of the bill, PP would be free to put signs on the curb on Mr. Salts’s side of the street. As for Rite Aid, they could call the police if prayer witnesses seemed to be disrupting anything. Or they could just ask a state senator to sponsor a bill for the exclusive relief of drugstores.

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