Sidewalk counselor Cathy Mieding addresses the press outside Planned Parenthood [Photo by John Jansen]
On Tuesday, November 16, dozens of pro-lifers gathered on the windy corner of LaSalle and Division on Chicago’s north side to protest the city’s new “Bubble Zone” ordinance which went into effect that day. The Pro-Life Action League had organized a press conference and protest to voice pro-lifers objections to the new law.
The ordinance requires that, within 50 feet of the entrance of an abortion clinic, a person cannot approach within 8 feet of a person attempting to enter the facility without their consent. The law is specifically aimed to hinder pro-lifers as they pray, sidewalk counsel and distribute literature outside abortion facilities.
Media Takes Notice
Representatives from many of Chicago’s major media outlets attended the press conference as speakers including the League’s Joe and Ann Scheidler and sidewalk counselors Cathy Mieding and Julie Grisolano. They told the crowd about the life-saving options they had to offer and about their peaceful, prayerful approach they take to reaching out to abortion-bound women.
Ann Scheidler speaks to the press [Photo by Matt Yonke]
Ann Scheidler and Cathy Mieding stretched an 8 foot rope between them to display to the press just how difficult it is to speak or distribute literature to someone that far away and what a ludicrous infringement it is upon pro-lifers’ First Amendment rights.
PP Staff Observes and Reports
Planned Parenthood had two “deathscorts” standing by their door as well as a well dressed man in a tan overcoat who came out of the facility at the beginning of the protest along with the “deathscorts.”
The man, who appeared to be a lawyer for Planned Parenthood, stayed the entire duration of the protest and refused to tell anyone, from League staff to the press, who he was and what interest he had in the protest. From time to time, he snapped pictures of the scene with a disposable camera.
Though pro-lifers do not intend to break the new ordinance, they do plan to continue their work of distributing information and offering choices to women facing abortion. They do forsee difficulties stemming from the vagueness of the new ordinance.
It is unclear what meaning the city attaches to the word “approach,” for example. Counselors and attorneys have been unable to ascertain whether a counselor standing outside an abortion facility would be violating the ordinance if a woman came within 8 feet of them, even if they didn’t actually move into that woman’s 8 foot bubble. Decisions will need to be made as pro-lifers see how the ordinance is enforced on the ground.
In the meantime, attorneys from the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center, Chicago are prepaing a challenge to the ordinance in court, asking a judge to enjoin the law until it is determined whether or not it violates pro-lifers’ First Amendment rights.
Media Coverage of the Event
- Anti-abortion protest targets new city ordinance—WGN TV, Channel 9
- Activists protest abortion clinic ‘bubble’ rule—WLS TV, Channel 5
- Abortion clinic ‘bubble’ law met by protests—Chicago Tribune
- Abortion clinic ‘bubble’ law met by protests—Chicago Breaking News Blog
- Anti-Abortion Activists Protest First Day of “Bubble Zone” Oridinance—Chicagoist Blog
- Pro-Life Action League Oppose Bubble Zone Ordinance, Sue Planned Parenthood—Catholic Online
- No cesan las protestas—Telemundo [Spanish]