A representative of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina says she’s concerned about Thursdays’ Supreme Court ruling that 35-foot buffer zones for abortion clinics in Massachusetts violate free speech rights.
“Planned Parenthood is concerned about the ruling, because patient privacy and safety is our number-one priority,” says Director of Public Affairs Alison Kiser. “But we continue to be committed to helping women access health care without fear of intimidation or harassment.”
Kiser says that because North Carolina does not have a state law that creates buffer zones to prevent anti-abortion protesters from getting too close to clinics and patients, organizations such as Planned Parenthood rely on local ordinances and police departments to keep order.
In the case of the Planned Parenthood facility in Chapel Hill, protesters who pray in front of the building on weekends are required to stay on the public sidewalk, and are forbidden to enter Planned Parenthood’s private property.
“We have very good relationships with local police departments where are health centers are,” says Kiser, “and we’ve been very fortunate not to have any problems in North Carolina with protesters coming on private property.”
Kiser says she’s not too worried about people misinterpreting the Supreme Court ruling to mean that they can now get closer to the Chapel Hill facility while protesting.
“It’s something that we’ll certainly want to keep an eye on, and that we’re very concerned about,” says Kiser, “since we do want to protect the women seeking our safe and legal and legal abortion services.”
Kiser says that protesters in Chapel Hill have generally been respectful and quiet. She adds that many of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are set up so that patients can park and enter in a way that they can avoid protesters in front of buildings.