Before The Buffer Zones...
The ACLU collected police reports and testimonies that showed what it was like to go to reproductive clinics in Massachusetts before the buffer zones were in place.
Mother Jones highlighted some of these “horror stories,” which received little media coverage leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down buffer zones in Massachusetts on Thursday, June 26th.
From Mother Jones:
Gail Kaplan, a patient escort at the Boston Planned Parenthood clinic, speaking to the Massachusetts Legislature in 2007:
The protestors are moving closer and closer to the main door. They scream and block the way for the patients to get into the clinic. We fill out police reports almost every week regarding the way they encroach upon the door, but nothing has changed…They’re getting so close that patients are terrified to even walk into the clinic.
I have often been spit upon while escorting a patient into the clinic since they got so close to me while shouting their protests…When it rains, they bring these huge umbrellas and try to knock the escorts out of the way.
Michael T. Baniukiewicz, head of security for Planned Parenthood facilities in Massachusetts, in a sworn 2007 affidavit:
"Bad enough I was scared coming here, afraid I might get shot."
I have observed [two regular protesters] standing by the PPLM-Boston garage entrance in Boston Police hats and jerseys…I saw [them] wearing Brookline Police hats and jerseys while standing near the entrance to the parking lot in front of Women’s Health Services.
They carried clipboards and had patients write on clipboards. These patients appeared to be frightened and upset when they learned that [they] were not police. Patients informed me that they had provided their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
Vanessa B. in a harassment incident report filed with Boston police, December 5, 1998:
One person was carrying a fake baby doll and was yelling, “It’s alive. You see what you’re doing!” Another person had a tape recorder and was playing a tape with a child crying, “Mommy, Mommy”…Bad enough I was scared coming here, afraid I might get shot…They made me scared, but they are not running me away because I have rights too.
Karen Caponi, a nurse practitioner and director of the Worcester Planned Parenthood clinic, speaking to the Massachusetts state Legislature in 1999:
One of our of physicians has been threatened with “I’m watching you” and “You won’t be smiling for long.”
Occasionally, anti-abortion-rights protesters attracted and clashed with pro-abortion-rights activists, making the situation even worse, as William B. Evans, a Boston police captain, says in a sworn 2007 affidavit:
"Even more egregious are the protesters who dress as Boston Police Department officers."
On approximately ten Saturdays in late 2006 and 2007, a pro-choice group that we called the “Pink Group” was particularly disruptive. They would go into the 18-foot buffer zone and they would push, shove, and step on other people’s feet in order to get a good position. When this pro-abortion group was present, the combined presence of the pro- and anti-abortion protestors within the 18-foot zone around the front entrance would effectively block the door.
Dianne Luby, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, speaking to the Massachusetts Legislature in 2007:
I see…protesters photographing and filming into patients and employees’ cars and taking photos of license plate numbers to post on websites.
Martha Coakley, Massachusetts’ attorney general, writing to the state Legislature in 2007:
Demonstrators regularly crowd facility entrances and surround women, facility employees and volunteers with graphic and discomfiting pictures of aborted fetuses, and shout at and taunt them calling them “baby killers” and “murderers.”
Even more egregious are the protestors who dress as Boston Police Department officers and approach women and their companions at close distance, pretending that they are escorting them to the clinic’s entrance, only to taunt them or force leaflets into their hands as they make their way to and from the healthcare facilities.