This past week, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that kept abortion protesters at least 35 feet away from abortion clinics. The law set up a parameter with a permanent line painted to designate the buffer zone as it was called. It should be noted that Rachel Maddow had a terrific segment on this topic on her show. She went into the history of violence by anti-abortion demonstrators in not only Massachusetts but nationwide. Obviously, the makers of the law were not trying to squash opposition as much as they were trying to protect those involved.
It has also been pointed out that the Supreme Court has such a buffer zone themselves. They aren’t the only ones that have such zones for their own protection. However, if we stick with the Supreme Court we notice the obvious problems with hypocrisy. Mind you, this isn’t necessarily about constitutionality because the court did strike down the law 9-0. One of the benefits of being on the court is that you don’t have to concern yourselves with public opinion. You don’t have to concern yourself with how a ruling looks in the face of overwhelming evidence and obvious contradictions. All you have to do is look at the law and measure it against the constitutionality of that law. It must be great to be them.
This isn’t really about abortion either. To be perfectly frank, I am against abortion myself. However, that is a position of personal faith and conviction and not one based on the law. Intelligent and reasonable people can hold personal positions while recognizing that the law comes to a different conclusion. I support a woman’s right to choose even if I disagree with the choice they make most of the time. While I understand my own beliefs and what my church teaches, I also understand that it is a choice that I’ll never have to make and I am thankful for that. Part of being a responsible adult is understanding that virtually no issue is completely black and white. There are nuances everywhere that are often impossible to understand completely unless you are personally and emotionally involved.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where everyone is a responsible adult. I suppose we all acknowledge that part of the bargain, but it doesn’t mean that we have to accept whatever consequences may come from that fact. The SCOTUS certainly doesn’t accept the consequences of that. They have a protective barrier that allows for their safety. The Congress and president have similar barriers. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that private citizens should have protections as well? In fact, they do. If you want to demonstrate, you often have to have a permit or are at least limited in the areas where you can protest. It’s not so much a freedom of speech issue, but an issue of safety.
It’s an issue when you have some people that cannot grasp the obvious contradiction between arguing for the sanctity of life and then be perfectly willing to take someone else’s life in the process. When Thomas Jefferson wrote down that we are endowed with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property), he put those so-called God given rights in that order for a particular reason. Without life there can be no liberty or happiness (at least in the worldly sense of happiness). Therefore, it is incumbent on the government to always balance life with liberty and happiness. Far be in from me to miss the obvious problems with that statement when speaking on the issue of abortion. It is a messy issue because it involves us balancing the liberty of one with the potential life of another.
For that reason, I would certainly hope that there would be people that deeply care about that potential life. I hope that there would be people that would speak out for that potential life. I also hope that there would be people to speak out for the rights of the woman in that situation. I hope that there would be people looking out for her and her wants and needs. In a pluralistic society we can do both. We can shout them from the rooftops and street corners if we so desire. We cannot harm anyone else or physically intimidate them in the process. I ‘m not a lawyer and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I fail to understand the wisdom of striking down a law designed to protect ordinary citizens from physical harm and harassment of their fellow citizens. By that same wisdom, I should be allowed to stand five feet from the bench and shout in their faces while they are making a ruling. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.