Aldermen consider tighter restrictions on anti-abortion demonstrators
By Stuart R. Wahlin
Jan. 25, the Rockford City Council’s Code and Regulation Committee will discuss a proposed ordinance aimed at preventing individuals from “engaging in prohibited activities” and “prohibiting passage to and from a health care facility.”
In particular, the measure appears to target anti-abortion protesters at the Northern Illinois Women’s Center, 1400 Broadway.
The proposed ordinance was introduced by Ald. Karen Elyea (D-11), who owns a business one block away from the clinic.
Sources indicate the measure is modeled after similar legislation adopted by cities and states throughout the country, including Chicago, which passed a “buffer zone” amendment to its disorderly conduct ordinance last year.
The Chicago ordinance applies a 50-foot radius from the entrance of any medical facility. Within the 50-foot radius, individuals are prohibited from coming within 8 feet of patients or employees, without consent, to speak, distribute literature, display picket signs or protest.
Chicago’s ordinance, violation of which bears a $500 fine, shadows a state law in Colorado with a 100-foot buffer zone. Despite challenges, the Colorado law has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Despite requests by phone and e-mail for comment, the first of which was submitted the evening of Jan. 20, Elyea has not responded. She did, however, provide comments to the daily for a story published to the Web Jan. 24.
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