In May, representatives of Planned Parenthood called for, and won, a 35-foot buffer zone around their Burlington, VT clinic, stating that pro-life activists were not only approaching, but upsetting both patients and employees. As reported to Fox 44 News, Jill Krowinski, PP director of public affairs, says that patients are being harassed and bullied. However, as reported by LifeSiteNews, the Burlington, Vermont police department has dispatched officers to the clinic only twice, and no one has ever been arrested, ticketed, or cited.
Last week, the Burlington City Council Ordinance Committee voted in favor of the “Patient Safety Zone,” part two of a three-vote process. Next, the vote heads back to the city council, which will vote on the issue on July 16 at 7pm. This final vote is needed in order to make the resolution a law.
If the resolution passes, it will mean that pro-life activists must remain 35 feet from the clinic, pushing them across the street to a parking lot, which is being leased, as reported by LifeSiteNews. The ordinance may mean the protesting stops altogether. Meanwhile, protestors continue to stand outside the Burlington clinic for the time being, and Vermont pro-life activists are hoping that their First Amendment right to free speech will squash the ordinance.
In a rare event in June, Fox 44 reports that police were called to the clinic by a protestor rather than by a PP staff member. Pro-life activist Jeff Christman complained that a PP staffer shoved him as he handed an anti-abortion brochure to a patient entering the clinic. Christman is quoted as saying, “We’re never violent, the violence that happens happens in there,” while pointing to Planned Parenthood.
Vermont has some of the most lax abortion laws in the country. Medical personnel other than a doctor can perform abortion at any stage of pregnancy, and abortion is legal for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy. There is no waiting period, and no parental consent is needed.
Vermonters should contact city council members to express their support of free speech for pro-life protestors.