Anti-choice activists employ a variety of tactics to try and prevent women from accessing abortion care. In Brooklyn that includes harassing doctors and patients until clinics close or stop performing the procedure.
According to reports, the Ambulatory Specialty Surgery Center of Brooklyn recently closed but will re-open shortly as a new medical center that provides outpatient surgeries but not abortion. The clinic closure comes after 22 years of sustained protests and abortion advocates say it is the first time they have heard of a clinic in New York closing under pressure from protestors.
“It was getting more and more difficult. Doctors were getting harassed and patients were getting harassed,” said building and clinic owner Terry Lazar told the New York Daily News about his decision to eliminate abortions. “It was a decision we finally had to make.”
Hoards of protesters would descend on the clinic, forcing doctors and patients to pass through them just to access the facility. “You had protesters with signs and banners yelling at people telling them they were baby killers,” Lazar said. “We were trying to do both and it just wasn’t working. We would have gone out of business.”
Of course, that was exactly the point.
Unlike legislation attempts to restrict abortion rights, clinic harassment is at least honest about its goal and intentions. Clinic protesters will verbally attack women while insisting they’re about to save their souls. It’s a campaign of guilt and shame and one that is only possible because we tolerate it.
There is no First Amendment right to harass a business into closure but there is a federal law that provides civil remedies as well as criminal penalties access to abortion clinics. But unless those violations are prosecuted, and until we stop targeting clinics to regulate them out of existence this is what life looks like for doctors and women at abortion clinics across the country.
Photo from MarkLyon via flickr.