Is There a Breakthrough in the Bubble Zone Fiasco?

Walter Hoye with Ann and Joe Scheidler

Walter Hoye (right) with Ann and Joe Scheidler in Hawaii last year

In Oakland, California, Pastor Walter Hoye started praying at an abortion clinic when two elderly women asked him to join them because most of the clinic’s clients were African-American.

A quiet, devout man, Hoye began to counsel the women coming to that clinic. And he saved babies. So, in short order, the City of Oakland passed a bubble zone ordinance to try to keep Pastor Hoye and the two older women from reaching out to women and offering them a real choice.

Pastor Hoye Fights Bubble Arrest—and Wins

Pastor Hoye was arrested under the ordinance, in spite of the fact that he actually abided by the stipulation not to reach into the 8-foot floating bubble around the abortion clinic clients. He refused to pay a fine and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

But although Pastor Hoye is a peaceful, soft-spoken gentleman, he is not a wimp. He appealed his conviction and challenged the ordinance in Federal Court. On Thursday, August 26, his criminal conviction was overturned by an Alameda County Court of Appeals panel. And the oral argument in his federal appeal is scheduled for October 8, 2010.

Fight Against Chicago Bubble Zone Continues

We are keeping a close eye on the various places in the country which have bubble zone laws in effect. We used to be proud to proclaim that Chicago was still a free speech zone—that we had no restrictions on where we could stand or what we could do while standing on public property, sidewalks that our taxes pay for.

But since last November, Chicago pro-life activists have operated under the cloud of an ordinance that the abortion clinic operators either don’t understand or choose to misrepresent. Many of the Chicago Police officers also do not understand the ordinance either. And many pro-lifers are confused about how the bubble zone impacts sidewalk counseling.

In Chicago there have been four arrests under the bubble zone ordinance. Three of those have already been dismissed by Circuit Court judges. The fourth hasn’t come up for a hearing yet. And plans are afoot to legally challenge the entire ordinance.

Unfortunately the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Colorado bubble zone law in 2000. That decision led to the enactment of these restrictive ordinances in several cities. But confusion reigns. And the real victims are the pregnant women who may never get the information they need in order to choose life for the babies they carry in their wombs.

Obama Justice Department Targets Pro-Lifers

Also troubling is the recent charges of violation of the federal FACE law (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) against people who pray at sites where the 40 Days for Life vigils have taken place. It looks very much like a concerted effort by U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder to stop prayer and counseling at abortion clinics.

We had better keep a close watch on our government. Our cherished freedoms are hanging in the balance.

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