I was looking through The Huffington Post today and came across this article about the need for a registry of people who have committed violence against abortion clinics or providers. I found the article really interesting and it definitely made me think.
The author, Jacob M. Appel, compares the anti-abortion violence registry to the sex offender registry.
Much as we do not permit convicted pedophiles to teach kindergarten or convicted hijackers to board airplanes, common sense dictates that individuals who have been imprisoned for plotting violence against abortion clinics should never again be permitted anywhere near such facilities.
While I was intrigued of the idea of this registry and could definitely see the benefit of it, I was a little weary while reading the first part of the article just because of the restrictions against free speech. But Appel later addresses this concern.
While shouting at female patients during their most vulnerable moments may be a Constitutionally protected right, doing so does not contribute to a robust marketplace of ideas. Nor does the legality of such demonstrations make them any less distasteful. Civil society would benefit greatly if anti-abortion activists took their protests to state capitals or to the steps of the United States Supreme Court instead.
I think that this idea merits serious consideration. It has benefits for both sides. One the pro-choice side, it helps promote the safety of clients and employees of abortion clinics. On the anti-choice/pro-life side, it further supports their nonviolence mission.
Doing so would lend convincing credence to the anti-abortion movement's claims to nonviolence and would prevent dangerous ex-felons from infiltrating its ranks.
Appel doesn't make any claims that this registry is going to solve the debate over abortion, because we all know it won't. But what it will do is ensure safe access to abortions for women who need them while also stopping violence within the "pro-life" movement.
This article spoke to me on a personal level as well. I recently started volunteering at my local Planned Parenthood. While this clinic does not provide abortion serives, there have still been protests there (because heaven forbid women get basic health care). As Appel asserts, people who committed crimes against abortion clinics in the 80s and 90s are just now starting to be released from jail and it is unlikely that they have shifted their political beliefs.
And this is the case at my local Planned Parenthood. A man was recently released from prison where he was serving time for crimes he committed against this clinic. When he was released, this office strengthened their security measures to prevent any future protests and/or crimes. While I still feel completely safe there, these security measures could turn off people going to the clinic. If this type of registry was in place and there were laws that legally kept this man away from the clinic, these measures would not have to be in place and it could potentially be a safer place for women to come to receive health care.