As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I applaud the Post-Gazette’s recognition of the critical protection clinic buffer zones provide for women who need to access comprehensive reproductive health care services (“Abortion Buffer: Justices Should Allow a Zone of Protection,” Jan. 27).
The Supreme Court would do well to consider the long history of violence and harassment directed at abortion providers in this country as well as at the patients seeking health care at family planning clinics. I have worked at clinics without buffer zones and witnessed the aggressive intimidation tactics of protesters. The picture currently painted in the media of protesters as “sidewalk counselors” who respectfully comfort women is not the reality most patients face. I have had patients who were physically threatened by protesters. Other protesters have violated my patients’ privacy by photographing them and posting their photos on malicious websites. Buffer zones are a critical tool protecting my patients from enduring a physical gauntlet of shaming and potential violence simply to get to the front door of a health clinic.
As the Supreme Court considers Massachusetts’ buffer zone law, I worry that the buffer zones outside of health clinics in Pittsburgh, and the protection they offer my patients, may be at risk. Without denying people’s strong feelings about abortion, the painted arc of the buffer zone is an important and constant physical reminder that no one has the right to prevent a woman from accessing safe and legal medical care.
CHRISTY BORAAS, M.D.