Sorry Honey, but in a free society you’ve got to suck this up

Nobody wants buffer zones outside abortion clinics. But, as a new study so clearly shows, the fact is women need them.
The report, published by Aston University this week, looked at comments from BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) patients between 2011 and 2014. It found clear evidence that the presence of anti-abortion campaigners outside clinics is ‘a significant source of distress’.
These findings will not surprise anyone who has seen such a protest, or spoken to a woman who’s encountered one.

Even if pro-life activists do nothing, women consider their presence outside clinics to be invasive and intimidating. That is not to say their behaviour is irrelevant: ‘numerous clinic users reported significant feelings of being…scared and these feelings were exacerbated where users were filmed, followed or (in their view) threatened by activists.’

Last week, a patient told us she felt “degraded” by activists in Oxford. The week before, a mum accompanying her daughter in London said she was “worried and anxious” that protestors would make her feel guilty over her decision. While the testimonies are as different as the women themselves, the message is consistent: a private decision is not a matter for public debate.

It is, largely speaking, legal to have an abortion in the UK. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.

It is, largely speaking, legal to say whatever the hell you want, wherever you want, about anyone elses’ legal activities in Britain. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.

It is legal for the prodnoses to stand outside a pub with a sign telling us all that rum is fer the very devil. It’s legal for the public health wallahs to stand beside a donut stand telling us all that sugar will kill us. It’s legal to stand outside an abortion clinic with a sign saying that abortion is killing someone (or something).

We get to do the things which are legal and we get to sPeaKe oUr bRAIns about the people who do things which are legal.

At which point the idea that a private decision is not a possible subject for public debate can fuck right off.

51 thoughts on “Sorry Honey, but in a free society you’ve got to suck this up”

  1. “Nobody wants buffer zones outside abortion clinics”

    Clearly not true, as the author then goes on at great lengths about why they want buffer zones around abortion clinics.

  2. ‘It is, largely speaking, legal to say whatever the hell you want, wherever you want, about anyone elses’ legal activities in Britain. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.’

    Perhaps it was once but it really doesn’t seem that way now.

  3. It is an attempted ploy riffing on the SJW bullshit “no one can upset me cos my FEELINGS are all that matter”–ie fuck your freedom.

    All that Uni vapouring about micro aggressions etc was not just an expression of gathering nuttiness (altho’ it is that also) but was carefully considered with a view to extending it out into “normal” society as another bogus rationale for suppressing views that the scum of the left want suppressed.

  4. “The week before, a mum accompanying her daughter in London said she was “worried and anxious” that protestors would make her feel guilty over her decision. “

    I thought the abortion-lovers went on and on and on endlessly about how terrible women felt about abortion and how they didn’t do it lightly and carried guilt to the end of their lives, etc, etc.

  5. ‘It is, largely speaking, legal to say whatever the hell you want, wherever you want, about anyone elses’ legal activities in Britain. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.’

    And this is one of those minimal restrictions. Say what you want about abortion, but intimidating someone on their way to a medical procedure isn’t on.

    I’d be happy with not having buffer zones if it was possible to sue the protestors for causing emotional distress.

  6. Matthew L

    That’s a very loose definition of “intimidate” you have there. There is no evidence that people have been physically abused or verbally threatened.

    Buffer Zones be damned.

  7. @ Matthew L
    “I’d be happy with not having buffer zones if it was possible to sue the protestors for causing emotional distress.”

    Quite frankly, your demand that people be sued for causing emotional distress is causing me emotional distress. See how that would work?

  8. Never had a problem with it–so long as it is not violent intimidation. Strikers have a perfect right to ask people not to whatever and so long as they accept a polite refusal–if that is what the person decides–no problem.

  9. “a private decision is not a matter for public debate.”

    Well, I.want.to see an Israeli soloist playing with an Israeli orchestra and afterwards discuss it in detail with an Israeli academic. However, I understand that the very same people who believe “a private decision is not a matter for public debate” also believe that there is.no such thing as ‘private’ when it comes to me, Israel and my decisions.

  10. And presumably the ladies in the queue should be grateful for the fact that Zoe’s spitting dictum does not extend to the protesters in this special case…

  11. Luke,

    > Where do you stand on picketting during strikes?

    If they stand there holding placards and chanting slogans, sure, go for it. When they try to use physical force to stop free people exercising their free choice to go to work, they should be arrested. When they hurl bricks through people’s windows, they should be arrested. When they threaten to harm people’s children, they should be arrested. When they drop cement blocks onto taxis, they should be arrested.

    The fact that “picketting” strikers have done all these things is why some of us object to them. We don’t object to the actual picketting per se.

    Have anti-abortion demonstrators done any of these things?

    Next question.

  12. I thought Ben Carson put this “private decision” thing brilliantly:

    And what if the abolitionists had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery, but you guys do whatever you want’? Where would we be?

  13. I’m not so sure about the legal side of this. There is, I recall, the offense of “causing an obstruction”. Was when I was a kid anyway. Which is basically committed by being on a highway (pavements are highways) & not moving. And I don’t think walking round in circles counts. There’s certainly enough people been collared for it. I’ve know some.
    It’s really whether the police choose to enforce.
    And I’m not sure about the “rights” aspect either. Would you like a bunch of kids standing outside your house, barracking you every time you came home? it’s what Asbos are handed out for, isn’t it? So what’s exactly the difference apart from these people being a self opinionated bunch-o-cunts?

  14. Bloke in Spain

    There has been much written in recent weeks about the ‘right to peaceful protest’. Those writing on it have suggested this right extends to putting on animal masks, entering shops and cafes and screaming into the faces of customers, standing one foot from delegates at party conferences, issuing express or implied physical threats to them, verbally abusing women at those conferences with sexual references, spitting on them and, yes, blocking the street.
    These same writers now seem to find that standing on a pavement and protesting against things those writers like isn’t peaceful protest at all; it’s suddenly become intimidation.

  15. BiS, removing your spleen or your wisdom tooth is ‘a medical procedure’.

    I want them to call it what it is, without sophistry, which is ‘termination of potential life’.

  16. “And this is one of those minimal restrictions. Say what you want about abortion, but intimidating someone on their way to a medical procedure isn’t on.”

    They’re not intimidating people. They’re not calling women whores or blocking their path. They’re doing no more or less than people who stood outside of restaurants that sold foie gras.

    What these people don’t like is that these people are hitting their guilt buttons, making them think about their choices, and sorry, you don’t get a pass for that. If I go into a restaurant serving foie gras, I might have to walk past these people. I have my conscience pricked by them. And you know what? I’m fine with that because my conscience is clear. If it wasn’t, maybe I shouldn’t be eating Foie Gras or supporting such a business.

    So, maybe if a bunch of people holding up placards makes you feel offended, maybe you shouldn’t do it. I eat foie gras because I went off and actually read about it, and I’m more comfortable with it than how “free range” chickens are kept.

    This from the BBC is just fucking grating: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34644369. Every time I go into town, there are people holding up placards about vivisection outside of Debenhams. And have they fucking once run a report into the graphic images that they show? No.

  17. The Back Off campaign includes amongst its list of supporters, Mark Thomas, a man whose speciality is protesting and defending the legal right to do so. And I had some time for him before this. Clearly, it’s only OK to protest if it’s the right sort of protest in his book.

  18. BIS:” Would you like a bunch of kids standing outside your house, barracking you every time you came home? ”

    If the junior yobs were doing so for their own amusement vs my quiet enjoyment of my premises then they certainly should be rousted. If they are people protesting because I am up to something they and others consider dodgy they are entitled to peaceful protest. If you were running a pro-Israel campaign from your gaff you might well expect leftists outside. And they might be well behaved. The test would come when the bluebottles are far away and they are on their conscience in more ways than one. Given the lefts track record you might well need to be ready for all sorts of hi-jinx.

    In the UK at least anti-abortion protests are fairly low-key.

  19. Others have said pretty much what I would like to say.

    All I have to add is: Matthew L, go and fuck yourself with a wire brush.

  20. Thing is, you can only feel guilty if you know, deep down, that you are doing something wrong, or potentially wrong.

    If someone says to me ‘You’re a murderer, you eat meat!’ then I feel not one jot of guilt, because I have no qualms whatsoever about being a carnivore.

    Whereas if someone went out of their way to highlight something I’d done that I wasn’t really that happy about, then I might feel (extra) guilt. And that guilt is my problem – it exists because I already know my actions are morally questionable. It is not caused by the other party, just brought to the surface, from where I had buried it in my psyche.

  21. I believe it was Bill Hicks who said if these protestors are pro-life why don’t I ever see any of them outside cemeteries protesting.

    The US protestors are an order of magnitude worse though and clinics have shut down in lots of places as the staff feel so threatened.

    Something should be done about the vivisection lot and the graphic images in public places, they have certainly upset my daughter on a number of occasions.
    The anti-fur protest at the Vancouver Winter Olympics where a number of people stood in front of the Olympic clock in just underwear was much more effective, with a lot of people going up and taking photos with the protestors and engaging with them, no need for graphic images.

  22. “The US protestors are an order of magnitude worse though and clinics have shut down in lots of places as the staff feel so threatened.”

    Name 3 clinics that have been shut down.

    There’s a story going around the UK started by the BPAS about how protests have led to a clinic closing down, but for some reason, they aren’t being very forward with the name of it.

  23. “I believe it was Bill Hicks who said if these protestors are pro-life why don’t I ever see any of them outside cemeteries protesting.”

    That is so lame I simply cannot believe it passed Bill Hicks’ self-edit.

  24. Gosh, you’re a rather reactionary bunch around here.

    Guilt: I suspect that any such feelings in these circumstances are ultimately biological in origin (hormonally based), with a veneer of social constructs over that. The ladies undergoing this medical procedure are undoubtedly in an emotionally vulnerable state.

    Yes, it is the termination of something with the potential for life but not everything reaches it’s potential and whatever is being terminated certainly isn’t a conscious entity at the point of termination. I’d guess that the pigs that are killed for your bacon butty have a higher level of consciousness than a foetus. Please don’t give me any of that irrational god-bothering nonsense about ‘soul’, we live in an age of science and technology so medieval notions have no place in public debate (unless you are ‘daesh’ of course).

    There’s a world of difference between crossing a picket line and going for an abortion. In the former case you’ll no doubt be in a frame of mind to stick it to the lefties, whereas in the latter you’re likely to be distraught and vulnerable.

    For a bunch of ‘libertarians’ you’re surprisingly quick to impose your received morality on others. I’m guessing you are generally in favour of the death penalty?

    And what for all these ‘lives’ you’ll ‘save’? Further pillory for the ‘shameless hussy’ and her bastard offspring? Given the general slant around here I suspect that you aren’t in favour of them being on benefits and going on to swell the ranks of the disenfranchised underclass?

    Personally I quite like the idea of living in a society that looks out for it’s more vulnerable members, but then I’m not a rabid thatcherite. I prefer to be rational and pragmatic.

  25. Fraggle850,

    “There’s a world of difference between crossing a picket line and going for an abortion. In the former case you’ll no doubt be in a frame of mind to stick it to the lefties, whereas in the latter you’re likely to be distraught and vulnerable.”

    Tell that to the “scab” miners after a taxi driver taking some of them to work was murdered by people dropping a concrete block on his car. Men feel vulnerable too. The difference is that men know that no-one’s going to white knight them if they show it.

  26. “Personally I quite like the idea of living in a society that looks out for it’s more vulnerable members”

    Yeah, me too, I agree.

    That’s why I’m generally against the most vulnerable members of our society being vacuumed away into non-existence just because someone doesn’t want them around.

    YVMV

  27. I was referring to the US, not aware of any UK clinics. While protesting is legal the act of intimidation is a different matter, the problem is that it’s a fine line and subjective.

    Someone mentioned Mark Thomas supporting the back off campaign, I recall he talked in a radio show remembering his father haranguing pro-lifers as he drove past them.

    As for Bill Hocks a quick Google has the quote as

    “If you’re so pro-life, do me a favour: don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries”

  28. Thanks for the lesson in ancient history: things were always worse in the good old days. Fortunately we live in a progressive society and things move on. That’s the key, I think, progress.

    Now if we could just progress beyond the point where moralistic busy bodies feel it’s right to push their sticky beaks into other people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable we’d be getting somewhere. Unfortunately we still live in a world where people still think it’s okay to be mean shits.

  29. Fraggle850

    That is a very cogent expression of your opinion on abortion. As a justification for preventing those who disagree with you from exercising the same right to peaceful protest that you would wish to have for yourself it doesn’t work nearly as well.

  30. Tim, foetuses aren’t members of society. They have no social interactions. They are just things that might do at some point in the future (unless we suck them out of existence of course).

  31. Fragile, that’s a very “convenient” definition for you isn’t it ? A foetus isn’t life until it is, it’s just a “thing” that can be flushed away on a whim. Do you also support abortion up to the instant of birth (or slightly beyond as most pro abortion people do), so an aborted foetus that just happens to born alive can be happily killed just because is an inconvenience ? Care to extend that just a few more days or months, how old would a child have to be before you think it can be classified as truly alive ?

    Presumably you also would support no prosecution for people who caused a miscarriage as of course there was nothing of value to be damaged, was there ?

  32. ” If they are people protesting because I am up to something they and others consider dodgy they are entitled to peaceful protest.”
    If they peacefully protest what I’m lawfully about, Mr X, they’ll be getting a tyre iron upside the head. They don’t like what I’m doing there’s a democratic process they can get the law changed. Go demonstrate outside Parliament or in Downing Street. Oh. Hang on. Demonstrations aren’t allowed there because it prevents politicians going about their business.
    I expect the same protection from the police.
    They don’t do it, it’s tyre iron time.

  33. Ironman, I’m not justifying banning them from protesting. I do believe in freedom and would defend people’s rights to do so, even if I disagree with their point of view. I just think that rights come with responsibilites and one of those responsibilities is to not be a prick.

    Perhaps, from your lofty moral perspective, you might view someone having an abortion as being beneath you, even beneath your contempt. Doesn’t make it right to kick them when they’re down.

  34. Ed Snack: I generally support science.

    > ‘how old would a child have to be before you think it can be classified as truly alive ?’

    Let’s not go there… oh wait, yes, let’s. I think that there are a significant number of adults who fail to achieve that status and a sizeable number more who might manage it fleetingly. Until it can stand on it’s own two feet it’s technically a parasite. Good enough for you?

    > ‘Presumably you also would support no prosecution for people who caused a miscarriage’

    Why? That doesn’t follow: one is performed with consent and sympathy, the other, presumably, with malice or negligence.

  35. Bloke Not in Cyrmu,

    “I was referring to the US, not aware of any UK clinics.”

    That’s what I meant. Name 3 US clinics.

  36. According to NAF, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid (“stink bombs”).The New York Times also cites over one hundred clinic bombings and incidents of arson, over three hundred invasions, and over four hundred incidents of vandalism between 1978 and 1993.

    Also from an article on southern states and issues

    “the number of abortion clinics in many southern states (Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi) has shrunk to single digits, requiring women to travel farther, pay more and receive later-term abortions. Currently, there is one abortion clinic in Mississippi, three in Alabama, and five in Louisiana, though three of those in Louisiana are expected to close within the next six months”

  37. Bloke not in Cymru,

    “According to NAF, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid (“stink bombs”).The New York Times also cites over one hundred clinic bombings and incidents of arson, over three hundred invasions, and over four hundred incidents of vandalism between 1978 and 1993.”

    So, no closures in there.

    ““the number of abortion clinics in many southern states (Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi) has shrunk to single digits, requiring women to travel farther, pay more and receive later-term abortions. Currently, there is one abortion clinic in Mississippi, three in Alabama, and five in Louisiana, though three of those in Louisiana are expected to close within the next six months””

    How many of those are closures related to violence and how many are down to states trying to introduce laws that make abortion more difficult or cutting funding to Planned Parenthood?

  38. Fraggle,

    >> Presumably you also would support no prosecution for people who caused a miscarriage

    > Why? That doesn’t follow: one is performed with consent and sympathy, the other, presumably, with malice or negligence.

    You may think it doesn’t follow. And yet, in the US, it is actually controversial when a prosecutor attempts to try the murderer of a pregnant woman for two murders instead of one. American lefties protest against it.

  39. > Now if we could just progress beyond the point where moralistic busy bodies feel it’s right to push their sticky beaks into other people’s lives

    Like Wilberforce.

  40. > Thanks for the lesson in ancient history: things were always worse in the good old days. Fortunately we live in a progressive society and things move on.

    Really? I couldn’t help but notice some student “protesters” chucking a fire extinguisher off a building into a crowd. Doesn’t seem like a huge stretch to compare that to dropping a concrete block onto a car. I mean, they’re both dropping heavy objects onto people because they think it’s OK to do that to people you disagree with. Should have been done for attempted murder.

    I think it’d be news to everyone who went within a mile of this year’s Tory conference that the Left have progressed and moved on, too.

    Holding a placard and handing out leaflets: being such a bastard that your actions need to be banned.
    Screaming abuse into people’s faces and spitting on them: AOK.

    Always valuable to be reminded what “progressive” means. Depressing, but valuable.

  41. Fraggle850

    Ed Snack: I generally support science.

    Until it can stand on it’s own two feet it’s technically a parasite. Good enough for you?

    For someone who claims to support science ( why the ‘generally’ qualification ? ) you have a strange definition of a parasite.

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