The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

Abortion protest etiquette 101: Assault women and ram that car through the window

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


If you think anti-abortion activists swarming around clinics are sweet, helpful Good Samaritans, you’ve sniffed a snoot-full of cockamamie pixie dust.

Or you’re swooning over the perfectly coiffed spokesmen (and, why is it they are almost always men?) whose carefully modulated tones and messages reassure that protestors are simple caring folks handing out pamphlets and alternative wisdom. What a crock. Believe that and you’ve never driven past an active clinic protest.

Which is likely a safe bet with this week’s 9-0 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The court told Massachusetts that its 35-foot buffer zone between protestors and the clinic door was unconstitutional, an infringement of protestors’ First Amendment rights. Said decision was, of course, written and handed down inside SCOTUS’ own 24,696 square foot buffer zone, which they created back in 2012 because they didn’t want the court-protesting riffraff getting too close.

I am all for First Amendment rights and abortion is not my personal choice, but having said both those things, I’ve got to go with “what where they thinking”?

Buffer zones for highly confrontational demonstrations are effective crowd-management tools. Keep the Kluckers and the anti-Klan folks apart and let them yell obscenities across the neutral zones. Ditto war protestors. And, environmental activists and anti-nukkers. Squabbling 10-year-olds on the playground come to mind, too. Keep the combatants far enough apart and, well, most likely no one gets hurt.

The justices said Massachusetts could tame over-zealous abortion protestors with other laws on its books, but it would have to allow protestors open access to the clinic pathways. And, folks, that means a return to some mighty scary comings and goings.

The least of which will include text-book verbal assault: Signs waving across your walk way. Aggressive men (again with the man thing) shouldering close enough to (almost) touch while spewing lovely, life-affirming things like “murderer,” “whore” and “baby killer.” And, for sure, we’ll be seeing the sincerely dedicated chaining themselves to cars parked across the sidewalk or ramming said car through the clinic window.

I am old enough to remember back alley abortions and terrified young women with no where to turn and condemnation on all sides. I am old enough to remember scrounging up cash for a friend who disappeared in the night to an undisclosed location. Almost 50 years later and we are once again saying it’s OK to terrify women with no alternatives. And, don’t hand me the platitudes about adoption and support for single mothers. If any of it were true, abortion protestors would be lining up to be adoptive parents and financial supporters of the pregnant mothers.

The Supreme Court says this is a First Amendment thing. I say it’s about mandating one more restriction on the way to making all abortions illegal once again.

But, OK, let’s stick with First Amendment. Prove it. Open the mall and get rid of your own buffer zone. Take down the barricades erected around federal buildings across the country to keep out the terrorists.

Which reminds me. Note to Massachusetts et al: Re-brand that buffer zone to be a homeland security measure to keep out the terrorists. And, note to Florida: What with our new Stand-Your-Ground rules that allow for a warning shot, perhaps we could all be packing heat around the clinics.






  1. Maria Colletti

    Love Key West, love the cats, but don’t like the editorials. Not very open minded, and the name calling is demeaning. I live in Rockford and understand that the Rockford Register Star has always been a very liberal paper. But your company should promote beautiful Key West, not political views. Leave that to other media outlets.

    • Linda Grist Cunningham

      Thank you, Maria, for reading my column and following my website. I hope you understand that I am no longer editor of the Rockford Register Star and there’s no connection between me and the paper anymore. I live full-time in Key West and my columns are my personal opinions. We may disagree on some things, but I completely agree with you about the cats and beautiful Key West.

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