Matt C. Abbott
'Bubble' trouble: Planned Parenthood called S.W.A.T. team on pro-lifers
By Matt C. Abbott
February 12, 2010

From Joe Scheidler, national director of the Pro-Life Action League:

    'It's been three months since the City of Chicago began enforcing the hideous new 'Bubble Zone' law, and we're really taking a beating.

    'Since the first day it took effect, the police have demonstrated profound confusion about the law, and their orders and threats have been unpredictable. My sidewalk counselors never know what they're going to hear next.

    'One Saturday, Planned Parenthood even called out the S.W.A.T. Team to confront the peaceful pro-life sidewalk counselors at their north side abortion mill — including a mother counseling with her five-year-old daughter in her arms.

    'I've really got my hands full dealing with the Chicago Bubble Zone. I've been training my sidewalk counselors how to keep saving babies under the new restrictions, working with my attorneys to build a strong case against the Bubble Zone and handling crisis after crisis out on the street.

    'And now I've learned that the City Council in Rockford, Illinois — 90 miles west of Chicago — is considering following Chicago's example and enacting a Bubble Zone of its own [click here for that story]!

    'The first problem recorded with the new Bubble Zone occurred the first week the Bubble Zone was in effect. It happened to my wife, Ann, at Albany Medical-Surgical Center, only a mile from my office.

    'Ann was sidewalk counseling near the entrance at Albany, when the clinic administrator, Diana Lamon, came out to tell her that she was violating the Bubble Zone. Lamon insisted Ann had to stand at least fifty feet away from the clinic.

    'Wrong. What the Bubble Zone law actually says is that anyone trying to counsel within fifty feet of a medical facility has to get permission to approach closer than eight feet. It says nothing about how close you can stand to the entrance.

    'But part of the purpose of this law, from the pro-aborts' perspective, was to cause confusion. It's a confusing law, with its eight-foot bubble inside of a fifty-foot bubble. So Lamon decided to try spreading the confusion to the police.

    'Three squad cars soon arrived at Albany, and three police officers headed into the clinic. Ten minutes later, they came out, and one of them approached Ann holding a copy of the ordinance. He pointed to the phrase 'within fifty feet of the entrance' and told Ann she had to move way down the block.

    'Ann was unable to convince the officer he was mistaken about the law. She couldn't even get him to read the entire sentence he was pointing to! She had no choice but to obey his false interpretation of the law.

    'But of course, Ann wasn't going to leave it at that. After her counseling stint, she contacted the city attorney who had drafted the ordinance — who verified Ann's reading of the law — and then faxed a copy of the ordinance and the correct interpretation of it to every police station in Chicago located near an abortion clinic.

    'Since then, thankfully, none of the counselors at Albany have had any problems. But it's another story at Planned Parenthood, as I'll tell you below.

    'I knew right from the start that the true purpose of the Bubble Zone was to give the clinic escorts — the 'Deathscorts' — at Planned Parenthood a tool for harassing the strong pro-life presence there every Saturday morning, their main abortion day. Our sidewalk counselors have been saving a lot of babies, and it's been driving the Deathscorts crazy.

    'Now they've got this confusing new law on the books, and they're having a field day with it.

    'The first Saturday under the Bubble Zone law, a police officer told the sidewalk counselors outside Planned Parenthood they 'could not approach or even stand within eight feet of a woman' and that no signs could be placed within fifty feet of the door. When the pro-lifers tried to explain what the ordinance really says, the police officer said if he had to go back to the station to get a copy of it, he would arrest any of the pro-lifers still at the clinic when he returned!

    'Eventually the pro-lifers convinced the police to let them stand fifteen feet away from the clinic entrance, though the number fifteen isn't anywhere in the ordinance.

    'Since then, the police keep changing their interpretation of the Bubble Zone from week to week. Here are just a few examples of the rules they come up with on the spot:

    • Police have forbidden [would 'tried to forbid' be better?] pro-lifers to display graphic abortion signs on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood, declaring that the signs cannot touch the sidewalk because it is public property.

    • Police have told sidewalk counselors they cannot speak to anyone entering the clinic unless that person first asks them for information. Desperate, abortion-bound mothers are somehow supposed to know some of the people standing on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood happen to be pro-life counselors!

    • Police have insisted that pro-lifers cannot stand within eight feet of the door of the clinic — as if the door has been granted a special bubble all its own.

    • One police officer, right after claiming he's only enforcing the law with strict neutrality, told a pro-lifer that 'you all are here to harass women, and this clinic is here to help them.'

    • As I mentioned above, one Saturday, they even called out the S.W.A.T. team! The peaceful sidewalk counselors — including a mom counseling with her five-year-old daughter in her arms — were confronted by an armored squadron!

    'As soon as I realized that the Planned Parenthood abortion mill on Chicago's near north side was going to be the Bubble Zone hot spot, I dispatched my staff member Corrina Gura to monitor the situation on the ground.

    'Every Saturday, Corrina has been going out to Planned Parenthood equipped with a video camera to record the arbitrary and confused directives coming from police. Every Monday she reports back to me and my attorneys with the latest developments.

    'With Corrina's help, my attorneys and I are putting together a strong case against the Chicago Bubble Zone. In fact, all this outrageous behavior from the police should end up helping to get the law struck down.

    'As it's written, the Chicago law conforms to the Supreme Court's dubious ruling upholding such free speech zones. But the way it's being enforced is beyond the pale.

    'What's more, I think we have a real shot at knocking down all the other Bubble Zone laws out there in other U.S. cities. The makeup of the Supreme Court has changed since they ruled that some Bubble Zones are okay. And now the first-rate legal team from NOW v. Scheidler is on the case.'

Pertinent link:

Pro-Life Action League

A reader wrote:

    'I agree wholeheartedly with you that the USCCB needs to be dismantled. I dedicate every Thursday in my prayers to that petition. We do not give to Atlanta's Archdiocesan Appeal or anything to our Catholic Charities or CCHD because of their support of Obama and other organizations and people. However, they still assess our parish for the Appeal, so we have to increase our giving to [name of parish redacted] to cover that assessment. I don't know what else to do.

    'Finally, have you seen or heard about Georgia's Endangered Species billboards and Campaign? You might want to check it out:'

Another reader informed me of the following blog:

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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