I still remember the harassment the day we visited a clinic 4 years ago. By ruling the 35-foot buffer zone unconstitutional, the Supreme Court is putting people in danger
It’s a little more than half the distance from home plate to the pitcher’s mound on a baseball diamond. It’s slightly longer than the length of two Cadillac Escalades. It’s five feet shorter than a standard telephone pole.
And until today, when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled the buffer zone unconstitutional because it allegedly infringed on free speech rights, it was the distance anti-choice protesters were forced to stay away from people entering abortion clinics in Massachusetts.
“That’s a lot of space.”
That’s how US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan described the 35 feet during oral arguments in January. And I guess it is a lot of space—depending on your perspective. For Justice Kagan, 35 feet on a tape measure might seem like a lot. But I have a slightly different perspective, one that is far more personal and relevant to this particular issue.
In 2010, my wife and I went to a Brookline, Massachusetts, abortion clinic after a team of renowned Boston doctors diagnosed our 16-week-old unborn baby with Sirenomelia. Our baby’s legs were fused together, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The baby had no kidneys, no bladder, and no anus. We were given the heartbreaking news that there was a zero percent chance of a live birth.
Because my wife’s health wasn’t in immediate danger, the hospital couldn’t get her in for a termination for two weeks. However, that meant it’d be a 50/50 chance of being able to have an abortion, or having to deliver a stillborn. After much soul-searching and contemplating a no-win scenario, my wife decided a stillbirth was more than she could handle and so the hospital sent us to a recommended clinic to perform an abortion.
When we pulled into the parking lot and got out of our car, the saddest day of our lives got exponentially worse.
Two women, 35 feet away, were standing across the street holding signs. When they saw us, they immediately started yelling things like “Don’t do it!” and “You’re killing your unborn baby!” I couldn’t have been more horrified. I couldn’t believe how these people would willingly stand outside and harass others at their weakest and most vulnerable. I couldn’t mask my anger nor could my wife hold back her tears at being unnecessarily and unfairly vilified.
But you know what I could do? I could hear them.