Pro-Life Groups Oppose Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - An abortion clinic in West Palm Beach, Fla., is lobbying for a 30-foot buffer zone to keep protesters at bay, but pro-life groups says they will challenge a buffer zone in court, if the city does agree to the abortion clinic's request.

The Presidential Women's Center asked the city to impose a buffer zone in August, and since then, it has waged a letter-writing campaign to generate support for the idea among city officials.

The pro-life group Priests for Life says a buffer zone is unnecessary, because it would squelch the free-speech rights of peaceful protesters and wouldn't deter people who might turn violent.

"If you're willing to inflict violence, you're certainly willing to transgress a buffer zone," said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, who describes the pro-life movement as a peaceful one.

"All civil rights movements have brought their message to the streets to educate the public through our first amendment rights," Pavone said in a press release.

He said pro-life protestors from around the country will come to West Palm Beach if city officials approve a buffer zone. And at least one West Palm Beach official -- City Commission President Kimberly Mitchell -- has expressed concern about that scenario.

"I think creating this additional ordinance is going to pull the city into a national fight that we don't need to be in," Mitchell was quoted as saying.

Pavone said Mitchell should consider that national fight already underway.

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