The Bread and Roses Women’s Health Clinic in Gainesville is looking to expand privacy protection for people who use its clinic by requesting a buffer zone to keep protestors at bay.
The ordinance, if passed, would keep protestors 35 feet from the clinic’s property. It would also give people who are within 100 feet of entering the clinic an eight-foot personal bubble, according to the clinic’s Facebook page.
Kristin Davy, director of the clinic, said protesting has become an issue because the protestors are so close to the entrance that it makes it difficult for anyone to enter or exit the clinic without being obstructed.
“The protestors need to back off a little bit,” Davy said. “They’re invading privacy, they’re disrupting the patients, and it is not reasonable.”
Davy said she realized there was a problem when a group of protesters who were granted a 40-day, 40-night permit that allowed them to protest near the clinic failed to follow the permit’s guidelines.
“There were rules to be followed,” Davy said. “Those rules were not followed, and the permit was not revoked.”
Gainesville Police Department spokesman, Ben Tobias, said the department reviewed the complaints when they were made but found no evidence to support the need for a buffer zone.
He said there have only been three incidents since 2005 that have taken place near any of the clinics in Gainesville. Two of those were property crimes.
“We frankly don’t see the need for it,” Tobias said.
Davy said there have not been any violent issues in the past at the Bread and Roses clinic, but she said safety is always in the back of her mind.
“Abortion protestors can be very violent,” Davy said. “Most are very peaceful, but I can’t tell the difference.”
Tobias said the community is so diverse and open-minded that even if people disagree with what the clinic does, they still respect people’s right to choose.
“I think the citizens of Gainesville truly understand this issue and have, honestly, respected each others’ differing rights,” he said.
Casey Christ wrote this story online.