Chicago Mayor Daley to Sign Bubble Zone Law Limiting Pro-Life Abortion Actions
by Steven Ertelt
October 9, 2009
Chicago, IL (LifeNews.com) — Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is signing the bubble zone ordinance today that will effectively limit the free speech rights of pro-life advocates. The city council approved the new law this week that pro-life groups say targets those who provide women alternatives outside abortion centers.
Daley said the ordinance will try to make sure nobody is harassed," according to the Chciago Tribune.
The mayor said pro-life advocates can express their opinions but should not harass and scream and yell at people going into abortion centers, even though that doesn’t appear to be happening.
There has to be some civility left in our society," he said.
Told that some alderman voters against the measure because of their religious views, Daley, who is Catholic, said, My religion is very personal.
Despite strong objection, members of the council voted 28-13 for the ordinance and it will now go into effect November 17 with the mayor’s signature.
Alderman Vi Daley of the 43rd district sponsored the measure that she said would bring the city in line with other cities that have targeted pro-life advocates.
The law establishes a 50-foot buffer outside the entrances of abortion centers and, within that zone, no one can come within an 8-foot zone to distribute literature, counsel or display a sign.
The law subjects pro-life advocates to a $500 fine for merely talking to women considering abortion outside an abortion facility.
Planned Parenthood spearheaded and supported the proposal and said after the vote that it is a "huge step forward for us and our patients."
Mayor Daley’s office had set up a telephone poll to track support and opposition to the bubble zone law and pro-life advocates had flooded his lines with calls.
However, Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard told the Chicago Tribune today that the polling number was unauthorized.
She said an aide had set up the survey without permission as a way of handling the massive number of calls Daley’s office was receiving on the proposal.
"It was not sanctioned," Heard said. "We did not task someone with doing this. We are pulling the plug."
David Bereit, the director of the national 40 Days for Life prayer campaign outside abortion centers, previously told LifeNews.com he worried the campaign would be directly adversely impacted by the law.
"If we don’t push back hard against this clearly unconstitutional law, Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry will feel empowered to trample on the rights of pro-life free speech all across the country," Bereit warned.
Peter Breen, executive director of the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group, has said it would sue the city for violating the First Amendment rights of pro-life advocates.
Breen said the tide would turn against free speech if Chicagos leaders target pro-life advocates with a municipal ordinance that would restrict their speech rights and prevent them from helping women.
This sort of peaceful and lawful conduct on public sidewalks in front of abortion clinics is protected by the First Amendment," Breen told LifeNews.com previously.
"This is not about safety," he said. "It’s about shutting down a means of protest. We don’t want to sue our hometown, but we will if this measure is passed."
The ACLU of Illinois issued a statement that makes clear that the Chicago Council "must honor the Constitution and tolerate the widest amount of free speech in public ways."
Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League tells LifeNews.com that the measure would be "devastating to our pro-life efforts, including sidewalk counseling."
"Chicago abortionists — led by Planned Parenthood — are pushing the Chicago City Council to adopt," the ordinance, he said. "The bubble zone would make sidewalk counseling nearly impossible within the city limits. Such a chilling attack on free speech could even halt the 40 Days for Life campaign going on right now."
ACTION: Contact Mayor Daley at 312-744-3300 and members of the city council at https://www.cityofchicago.org/CityCouncil and expression your opposition to the new law.
Related web sites:
Thomas More Society – https://www.thomasmoresociety.org
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