Okay, last week the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments in a case based in my home state of Massachusetts. It has to do with freedom of speech, actually. It relates to the rights of women who elect to visit and/or use the legal abortion clinics in the state. Both sides participated in a heated exchanges in front of SCOTUS -- the issue is whether a 35 foot buffer zone was really necessary to keep free access to the clinics for patients -- or if protesters had the right to get right up into a woman's grill and block her free passageway.
What makes this case quite curious is the take on the protesters by Supreme Court Justice, Anton Scalia.
The DAILY BEAST reports this.
Last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told us that these people are not anti-abortion “protesters.” Instead, he glowingly described them as, “counselors” who wanted “to comfort these [pregnant] women” by speaking to them, “quietly and in a friendly manner.”
Quiet. Friendly manner. Counselors. That all seems to be quite benign. But is it really?
The author of the Daily Beast article, Dean Obeidallah, decided to take a look at just what kind of friendly greetings women were receiving upon their clinic arrival. Here are a few of the welcoming signs these women were met with:
“Be a man-stop your woman from killing your baby!”
“Mommy, don’t kill me!”
“You are going to be the father of a dead baby!”
“Babies are murdered here”
“Danger! Baby killing zone.”
Well, that hardly seems to me to be all friendly-like. Could Scalia have been wrong in his assessment? A SCOTUS justice not knowing a protester from a counselor? To me, this might be a simple case of Scalia coming down with "...ass from his elbow" syndrome.
Obeidallah was in his local area -- New Jersey. So this isn't some Red state battleground. He points out that the Garden State has NO buffer zone law like Massachusetts but they do have a ban on electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. So we can see where priorities fall in Governor Christie's state. Don't mess with the pols, just with women who are pregnant.
After parking his car a block and a half from the clinic, Obeidallah got out of his vehicle. From there he could hear shouting coming from the direction of the facility, but he wasn't sure what it was until he arrived on the premises. There he saw men and women shouting, cursing, and trying to convince every woman who attempted to enter, not to have an abortion.
They handed out pamphlets explaining alternatives to abortion. They even offered free sonograms to pregnant women in a van parked outside the clinic. As one “counselor” explained to me, “Once a women sees her baby, she will never have an abortion.”
Free sonograms? Administered in a parked van? Given by whom? Is this a case of practicing medicine without a license or in an licensed medical facility? There's a lot of questions here.
But what this all comes down to is why there's a need for a buffer free zone for women seeking a legal procedure. That's the crux of the case in front of the Supreme Court. This isn't really a matter of counselling or protesting. This is a matter of reasonable access to a legally licensed facility without zealotry prohibiting their right to public entrance.
As Obeidallah writes:
This group of men had formed an angry gauntlet in front of the clinic. They held signs bearing photos of dead babies, Biblical verses, and allegations that baby-killing was taking place at this facility.
But one thing is clear, they were not there as Justice Scalia claimed, “to comfort women.” They wanted to intimidate women to not enter the clinic.
We now have to wait until June for the court's official opinion to be revealed. But when you hear a justice like Scalia making totally outrageous remarks, tendered in a dark cloak of tunnel vision, you can only hope there are others on the bench who do know when their shoes are being pee'd on and they're being told it's just rain.