Chicago Alderman Bill Conway has announced his intention to push for a “quiet zone” outside the city’s abortion facilities. Though the city already has a “bubble zone” which prohibits pro-life sidewalk counselors from approaching within eight feet of a person standing within 50 feet of an abortion facility entrance, abortion supporters like Conway now want to take this restriction a step further and prevent the use of loudspeakers outside these spaces.
In speaking with Block Club Chicago, Conway decried the fact that pro-lifers are using loudspeakers to broadcast worship songs and prayers. He wants to implement a “noise-sensitive zone” that would limit the use of loudspeakers.
“They’re yelling at them, chanting, speaking through a bullhorn towards them. I’ve seen them handing out literature as well. It’s really all of the above,” Conway explained. “All of this, of course, is meant to intimidate people seeking services or discourage them from getting access to health care at all.”
“People probably think this doesn’t happen in Chicago, and it does,” he said. “I think this shows that we really need to increase our efforts across every level of government to make sure folks can access health care and exercise their constitutional rights.”
Allison Cowett, the abortion facility’s medical director, concurred, painting the anti-abortion protestors as menacing. “We understand that it is the First Amendment right of folks to protest, but we don’t believe it’s their right to negatively impact our patients and their right to an abortion,” she said. “They’re yelling and screaming at people their own personal beliefs about what they shouldn’t do with their pregnancies. … They’re not living up to the spirit of the bubble ordinance, which is don’t speak to people that don’t want to speak to you.”
Though Chicago’s ‘bubble ordinance’ has been in effect since 2009, city officials have recently embarked on a push to further restrict pro-life activity. In July, Mayor Brandon Johnson issued a report called “A Blueprint for Creating a More Just and Vibrant City for All,” in which he detailed a plan to criminally charge pro-life sidewalk counselors with disorderly conduct.
Though often vilified as in this situation, pro-life sidewalk counselors often engage in peaceful, prayerful activity while offering abortion-minded women information about other alternatives available to them. Because 64% of post-abortive women report feeling pressured to abort, this information is often well-received and has resulted in women changing their minds and choosing life. If sidewalk counselors are forced to stand at a distance so far away that they cannot be heard by women, these sidewalk counselors may make use of voice amplifiers to reach them.
40 Days for Life, an organization that routinely holds prayerful vigils outside of abortion facilities, reported 680 babies saved during its most recent campaign.
According to Block Club, Conway will need to work with the Chicago Department of Health and the police department to establish a noise-sensitive area, and the ordinance would need to be officially passed by city leaders.