In an act that I am almost positive is illegal, the Jackson City Council in Mississippi voted on Tuesday to ban pro-life activists from gathering and protesting outside of abortion clinics. They claim that they are establishing a "bubble zone" around their last abortion facility.
The new law prohibits "picketing within fifteen feet of a facility, coming within eight feet of people entering or exiting the building, and erecting speaker systems within 100 feet." It nearly passed unanimously with a 3-1 vote.
With 3-1 vote, Jackson City Council passes ordinance that would establish buffer zones/safe zones near health care facilities, particularly the state’s only abortion clinic in Fondren. #wlbt pic.twitter.com/zhjoZCXN3M
— C.J. LeMaster (@CJLeMaster) October 1, 2019
Anyone who violates those terms could face a hefty fine of up to $1,ooo as well as a maximum of 90 days in prison.
Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce commissioner Andy Gipson tweeted, "It’s a very sad day that a majority of the Jackson City Council has voted to restrict the free speech of peaceful sidewalk counselors near the State’s only abortion clinic. I appreciate those who opposed this unnecessary ordinance."
It’s a very sad day that a majority of the Jackson City Council has voted to restrict the free speech of peaceful sidewalk counselors near the State’s only abortion clinic. I appreciate those who opposed this unnecessary ordinance.
— Commissioner Andy Gipson (@CommAndyGipson) October 1, 2019
I agree, a sad day indeed.
The biggest effect of the new ordinance will be to shield Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which operates the state’s last abortion facility in Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood. The facility has been a source of questions and controversy for years, from allegedly failing to report chemical abortions to the 2018 birth of a baby to a woman at the facility for a consulation, raising questions as to just how late Jackson WHO would have committed her abortion.
The Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP) released the following statement regarding the ordinance: “Proponents of the regulation have cited noise complaints and the potential for heightened conflict as the reasoning behind the legislation." They continued, “However, opponents of the regulation have noted that the noise is often escalated by the abortion center who will turn up music while sidewalk participants attempt to speak with those around the abortion center and that the regulation curtails their free speech rights.”
“At the end of the day, the abortion center can paint itself bright pink colors, play music, and attempt to be a part of the more hip, growing Fondren community, but it can’t cover up what happens inside its walls, a continued dark stain on the neighborhood and the city,” MCPP added.
According the First Amendment of our great nation, the government is prohibited from making laws which hinder free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, or our right to peacefully assemble.
Therefore, to ban them from protesting or pro-life speech is illegal. Nevermind the fact that they allow the facility to murder unborn babies within their walls. Last time I checked, murder is also illegal.