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Let’s review buffer zone facts

Retail stores in downtown Peterborough are wrapping up the summer season.

Retail stores in downtown Peterborough are wrapping up the summer season.

Jon Manley’s letter last week explained why he continues to favor the New Hampshire buffer zone law, in spite of the fact that a similar Massachusetts law was unanimously struck down by the Supreme Court. While Jon’s letter reflects his opinion, it appears to ignore the facts of the case.

Jon describes a statute directed at “health clinics.” The law itself is directed at “reproductive healthcare facilities,” which are facilities performing abortions. Failing to make this clear does not provide adequate context for an issue that is deeply personal to people on both sides of the issue. No one enters into an intimate relationship with the end goal of abortion. A woman facing this choice is coping with circumstances she never hoped to face. The choice for an abortion is a choice of tragedy for all — and I mean all — persons involved.

For many making the choice for abortion, they feel that they have no other options. Those protesting at reproductive health clinics are trying to make the best of this difficult circumstance by ensuring women making this choice are aware of all their options. Quoting from the Supreme Court case, “they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives. It is thus no answer to say that petitioners can still be seen and heard by women within the buffer zones,” an argument that Jon tries to make. Jon also invokes images of these protests as “loud and in your face,” “people hurt,” “history of violence” and even invokes the idea of “lethal force.”

Quoting again from the Supreme Court case, the circumstances on the ground are very different. There has not been “a single prosecution or injunction against individuals outside abortion clinics since the 1990s.” Jon assumes that another law will somehow ameliorate the effects of the difficult circumstances. Local laws already on the books prohibit trespassing, assault, harassment and criminal threatening. The federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 “imposes criminal and civil sanctions for obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services.”

Rather than develop unnecessary laws that foment tension among those with deeply held differences of opinion, let’s work to avoid the human tragedy to begin with.

Frank Edelblut of Wilton is a candidate for state representative in Hillsborough District 38, which includes Antrim, Bennington, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Hillsborough, Lyndeborough, Wilton, Windsor and Greenville.

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