Chicago Bubble Zone Ordinance Aims to Kill Sidewalk Counseling

Joe and Ann Scheidler, Corrina Gura and Kathy Mieding at the Human Relations committee meeting

Left to Right: Kathy Mieding, Joe Scheidler, Corrina Gura and Ann Scheidler at the Human Relations Committee meeting [Photo by Jessica Binsch/MEDILL]

On Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 29, a local Chicago ABC reporter called Joe Scheidler for a comment on the bubble zone ordinance proposed in the Chicago City Council. This was news to the Pro-Life Action League.

Research on the City of Chicago website revealed that on September 9, at the behest of Planned Parenthood, Alderman Vi Daley (no relation to Mayor Daley) proposed an amendment [PDF] to the City’s Disorderly Conduct Ordinance, creating a 50 foot bubble zone around “health facilities,” with the obvious aim of keeping pro-lifers away.

The proposed amendment was scheduled for discussion by the Human Relations committee at City Hall on Wednesday morning at 9:00. Joe and Ann Scheidler, Corrina Gura and sidewalk counselors Kathy Mieding and Lynn Benz showed up in City Council chambers, as did attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center, Chicago.

Planned Parenthood, Family Planning Associates Reps Testify

Beth Kanter of Planned Parenthood testified that pro-life protesters make it difficult for their clients to get into their clinic for “services”. Katherine Rabbit of Family Planning Associates cited the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil as a reason they need the bubble zone.

The proposed amendment included a bubble zone and a provision fashioned after the federal Freedom of Access of Clinic Entrances act (FACE). The original submission, according to Peter Breen, was clearly unconstitutional. By the time of the Wednesday committee meeting a new draft had been submitted. The abortion proponents all had copies of the new version. But since the pro-lifers had never been notified at all they had to request a copy of the new draft. The new version included a second 8 foot bubble around any person going to the clinic, so that a pro-life counselor could not come nearer than 8 feet unless the other person consents.

Even the ACLU Opposes the Bubble Zone

Colleen Connell of the ACLU spoke mostly in favor of the amendment, but asked for additional time to evaluate the new version. On October 1 the ACLU issued a statement [PDF] opposing the “speech restraint.”

The Chicago bubble zone isn’t just an attack on pro-lifers in Chicago. Planned Parenthood is eager to shut down sidewalk counseling across the country, and this is just a first step.

—Eric Scheidler

“The Chicago bubble zone isn’t just an attack on pro-lifers in Chicago,” said League executive director Eric Scheidler. “Planned Parenthood is eager to shut down sidewalk counseling across the country, and this is just a first step.”

Call Mayor Daley and Protest

The Pro-Life Action League brought together a coalition of Chicago area pro-life organizations to fight the City Council’s efforts to limit our free speech. The coalition launched phone calls and postcards, alerting pro-lifers to the urgent need to oppose the bubble zone. People are urged to contact Mayor Richard M. Daley’s office at 312-744-3300. Tell him to reject the bubble zone ordinance.

The measure could be up for a vote before the full City Council as early as Wednesday, October 7. The League will conduct a protest outside City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street (map), and as many pro-lifers as the Council chamber will accommodate will attend the Council meeting.

Please join the protest on Wednesday, October 7 at 9:00 a.m. in front of Chicago’s City Hall. The League will supply signs, flags and buttons to let the public know that we oppose any effort to deny us our constitutional right to free speech.

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