EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 8, 2014

Letter: Supreme Court puts women in jeopardy

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

Remember “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well, leave it to all nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, from regressives like Antonin Scalia and his acolyte Clarence Thomas to normally intelligent centrist/progressives like Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer to ignore that usually sage advice by using their legislative power to wipe out the 35-foot buffer zone separating female patients from the oftentimes frothing antiabortion crowds lining the paths to Planned Parenthood and other health clinic entrances. This effective statute had been functioning in Massachusetts since 2007. The law was originally enacted in response to the John Salvi abortion clinic murder rampage back in 1994, and had served admirably as a common-sense separation line between the antiabortion groups who pack the front of these centers daily and the women utilizing their services.

Earth to the Supreme Court: This isn’t simply an abortion question. Nor does it encompass morality or First Amendment issues. To anyone with the slightest hint of a brain, it’s a safety issue, as people who have taken the trouble to view first-hand the chaos and violence, up to and including the many murders committed by assorted wackos over the years near these clinics understand. Many of these sign-carrying zealots believe themselves to be “God’s emissaries”, their cause consequently rising above both condemnation and punishment.

Maybe if the court had taken the time to spend an hour or two at one of these clinics instead of foolishly buying the plaintiffs’ grandmotherly party line about their merely serving as “sidewalk counselors” the decision would’ve had a smarter outcome. Apparently it’s going to take another Salvi-like attack to remind the nine justices of what exactly their indefensible verdict entails. You wonder if they’ve even bothered to take note that the screaming and unwanted proselytizing from the oftentimes angry mob, right up and in the faces of assorted female patients approaching Planned Parenthood, commenced the very next day after their ruling. Police and security details have already been beefed up. And it’s probably only a matter of time before the unthinkable happens. Again.

This ruling has made it harder and more expensive for women to procure reproductive and contraceptive care by making it incredibly stressful to even keep appointments with their doctors, which actually prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place. The Supreme Court has opened the door to increased aggression both verbal and physical against women using these legal clinics, including the majority of them who aren’t even there for an abortion in the first place.

American women had better take a long, hard look at the extreme conservative wing of the present-day Republican Party as it continues its battle to consign them to ever more second-class citizen status. And this isn’t hyperbole. Just check out the Senate Republicans’ April blocking of President Barack Obama’s Equal Pay Act, his attempt to try to narrow the 20-23 percent wage gap between male and female employees. Then Google the anti-female laws being-and-already enacted in many of our Southern and Western states by their governments and courts. Feel glad that you’re living here in the Granite State, where our eviction of most of New Hampshire’s tea party Republicans and the election of Gov. Maggie Hassan in the 2012 elections prevented similar legislation from taking place within our borders. And this Nov. 4, we’d better make sure to use our votes to keep it that way.

William F. Klessens