In the hours following the Supreme Court’s ruling on “safety buffer zones” around abortion clinics, few mainstream media outlets called attention to the violence that necessitated them – but social media was awash with personal stories which defied their silence.
Hashtags like #ProtectTheZone, #ClinicViolenceIsReal, #NotCounseling, #SCOTUSFail, #clinicthreats, and #antichoiceterrorists all appeared in thousands of tweets from firsthand victims of clinic violence following the SCOTUS decision Thursdsay. Mainstream media, however, did not engage in dialogue about the terror, violence, and harassment which make buffer zones so important.
The Rachel Maddow Show was one of the only prominent cable media programs to immediately weigh in on the reason safety buffer zones came to be. “Let this paint a picture for you,” Maddow opened. She went on to review the murders of doctors in Pensacola and an escort in Pensacola, as well as the murders of two young women in Brookline, Mass. clinics. She recounted the murders of 38-year-old Lee Ann Nichols, and 25-year-old, Shannon Lowney. Both women were clinic receptionists in Brookline, Mass. John C. Salvi killed Lowney and Nichols, and was captured a day later in Norfolk, Va, where he shot up a third reproductive health clinic.
Her guest, Marty Walz, President of the Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts, also weighed in on the Supreme Court decision. “They didn’t do anything about their own buffer zone law, so apparently they think they have one set of rules, and women seeking healthcare should be subjected to a different set of rules,” he said. He later revealed that PPFA lawyers are reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision, and they plan to frame a new buffer zone law that complies with the ruling.
Media Resources: Twitter; MSNBC.com, 6/26/14; Open Jurist, 2/20/98; Feminist Newswire, 6/26/14