Chicago Passes Bubble Zone Ordinance—League Urges Mayoral Veto

Pro-lifers protest the bubble zone outside city hall [Photo by Sam Scheidler]

Pro-lifers protest the bubble zone outside city hall [Photo by Sam Scheidler]

On September 29, the Pro-Life Action League learned of a proposal for a 50 foot “bubble zone” around all health facilities in Chicago. Inside the bubble zone, no one could come within 8 feet of a person approaching the facility without their permission. This ordinance would put a muzzle on sidewalk counselors in the city of Chicago, making it nearly impossible for them to peacefully offer help to women seeking abortion.

The League also learned that the measure could go before the full City Council for a vote at their next meeting. In response to this news, the League and a coalition of other Illinois pro-life groups organized a massive grassroots effort that culminated on the morning of October 7, with a protest and press conference outside Chicago’s City Hall just prior to the City Council meeting.

At 9 a.m., over 150 people came to oppose the bubble zone, lining the sidewalk along LaSalle Street with a rousing picket. Protesters held signs reading “No Bubble Zone” and “Protect Free Speech” and chanted “Life Yes, Abortion No, the Bubble Zone has got to go!”

Press Conference Draws National Media

“No Bubble Zone” Press Conference

Next, a press conference was held on the steps of City Hall. Speakers included League national director Joe Scheidler, sidewalk counselors Shannon Buckner, and Kathy Mieding. The press and protesters also heard from Peter Breen, executive director or the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center, Chicago, and Sirina, a Ghana-born woman who brought her pregnant daughter to Albany for an abortion only to be saved from the pain of abortion by sidewalk counselors.

The speakers were unanimous that the bubble zone ordinance was founded on lies about pro-lifers’ and their tactics, and that it was clearly an unconstitutional violation of pro-lifers freedom of speech. Click the play button in the Pro-Life Action Video window to watch the whole press conference.

City Council Passes the Ordinance

After the press conference, many of the pro-lifers came into the City Counil chambers and packed the overflow room above the council chambers to observe the proceedings. A small cadre of Planned Parenthood supporters showed up along with Planned Parenthood Illinois president and CEO Steve Trombley.

Chicago City Counsel meets over the Bubble Zone ordinance [Photo by Matt Yonke]

Chicago City Council meeting in progress [Photo by Matt Yonke]

Trombley is the same Planned Parenthood employee who broadcast lies about the Pro-Life Action League and the entire pro-life community of the Illinois Fox Valley in 2007 during the fight to keep Abortion Fortress out of Aurora, Illinois. Those lies are now the subject of an ongoing lawsuit led by League executive director Eric Scheidler.

When the bubble zone came up before the Council, an attempt was made to sneak the ordinance by as if there were no objection to it and no vote needed to be taken. Fortunately, 41st Ward Alderman Brian Doherty spoke up and noted that he wanted his vote of “No” recorded. Several other Aldermen voiced their desire for their dissenting votes to be noted as well—so many, in fact, that the Council was forced to take a full roll-call vote.

Steve Trombley immediately after the vote [Photo by Matt Yonke]

Planned Parenthood’s Steve Trombley right after the vote [Photo by Matt Yonke]

It was a very tense several minutes as the names of all 50 Aldermen were called. In the end, the ordinance passed with 28 votes for, 13 against, with the rest abstaining. Pro-lifers were very dissapointed, but hopeful that all was not lost. The ordinance still needs to be signed by Mayor Daley before it can take effect, but the Mayor has the power to veto the ordinance. The Mayor has come out in favor of the ordinane, but he can still change his mind and veto it before the next City Council meeting.

Call Mayor Daley Today!

With that in view, the League is preparing a legal brief on the ordinance to present to Mayor Daley’s office, urging him to veto this uncontitutional ordinance.

The League also urges pro-lifers everywhere to call Mayor Daley’s office and call on him to veto the bubble zone ordinance. Call the Mayor’s office at 312-744-3300 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time and tell him to veto the bubble zone ordinance. This small step will be a huge help in urging the Mayor to shut down this pernicious ordinance.

Pro-Life Work Must Continue

League vice president Ann Scheidler urges pro-lifers to remeber that this ordinance is not a law yet. “Go to the clinic to pray, to be a part of 40 Days for Life, to sidewalk counsel,” Scheidler said. “This life-saving work must continue.”

In addition to the regular work of prayer and counseling, pro-lifers in Chicago will be protesting the bubble zone ordinance on Saturday, October 10 with a “Face the Truth” Tour at the Planned Parenthood Near North Center in Chicago [Map] from 9 to 11 a.m. The League encourages all pro-lifers to join this important exercise of First Amendment rights.

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