A Baptist pastor who violated an Oakland, CA ordinance that prohibits anti-abortion protesters from coming within eight feet of women entering an abortion clinic for a legal surgical procedure has been fined $1000. and put on three years’ probation. His crime could have led to a two-year jail sentence.
The court noted that the pastor didn’t “lay hands” on anyone [um, that would have been assault] and asked him if he would obey an order to stay 100 feet away from the Oakland clinic. The pastor said “no”. The judge let him go anyway. Because this law isn’t serious, the “victims” aren’t real. They’re only women incubating babies. It’s pretty clear the law was drafted to prevent disorder around abortion clinics and not to protect its patients.
The anti-abortionists call this a “free speech” case. I don’t even think they believe themselves on this one. These are people who try to exploit whatever “right” or “freedom” suits their overriding wish for control over women’s bodies. The justice system, in this case, is more sympathetic to them than it is to the women harassed by fundies carrying mendacious posters of baby bits.
The pastor’s lawyer was at pains to point out the “conspicuous absence” of patients at the trial to testify that they felt threatened by him. Of course, the law doesn’t require the presence of threatened patients. The fact that the pastor was inside the “protected zone” with his sign is enough. It doesn’t require a woman who’s visited an abortion clinic and been harassed to show up in court – an obvious invasion of the very privacy, safety and security that’s put at risk by people like the pastor.
Here’s what a women’s health specialist had to say:
When anyone restricts access to reproductive health services, every woman affected is a living example of a colonized body.
I suppose we’re expected to be grateful that there’s any protective law at all, even when it’s taken so lightly that a man standing in a courtroom who says he’s going to break it again is given the “all clear”.