Keep the buffer zones at health clinics

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Regarding “Abortion Clinics’ Buffer Zones in Question” (June 27), as an obstetrician-gynecologist, I worry that the protection Pittsburgh’s women and families have been afforded by clinic buffer zones may be in danger.

The Supreme Court, in its decision in McCullen v. Coakley, has ignored the long history of calculated violence and harassment directed at patients seeking health care at family planning clinics, and the health care providers and staff who work there.

I have worked at clinics without buffer zones and witnessed the aggressive intimidation tactics of protesters. These so-called “counselors” are being portrayed in the media as soft-spoken, peaceful, concerned citizens when, in fact, they spread dangerous lies about the safety of abortion and regularly physically threaten patients and their families. Anti-choice protesters have violated my patients’ privacy by following them home and vowing to post their information on malicious websites.

Imagine that you are a patient going to your doctor for a medical procedure, any medical procedure. Now imagine arriving at your doctor’s office and finding insults, threats and physical harm directed at you for simply trying to access safe, legal medical care. All patients deserve protection from that type of harassment. Buffer zones in Pittsburgh are a critical tool to help protect women accessing abortion care from enduring a physical gauntlet of shaming and potential violence simply to get to the front door of a health clinic.



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