Earlier this week an ordinance was passed in the city of Jackson by a 3-1 vote to “prohibit certain activities near healthcare facilities.” 

This ordinance specifically targets the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The ordinance will create a “bubble zone” around the abortion facility, forbidding pro-life speech, prayer, or activity near the building. 

Council Member Melvin Priester was largely concerned with maintaining a peaceful atmosphere in the business community. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba commented that he stands for free speech, having protested in Ferguson himself. He warned that protestors must remain, “dignified and respectful.”  Council President Virgil Lindsay stated that this is an issue of access to healthcare. 

The comments, made by city council members in regards to the ordinance, were befuddling and seemingly erroneous – but, what can be said about such a blatant violation of our rights? Apart from the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate, this ordinance restricts freedom of speech and assembly on public property. As such, it is a subject which our council members and other politicians should have impeccable clarity. 

Many, including myself, do not agree with various methods used on the sidewalk outside JWHO. If we stand for free speech, however, we must also stand for free speech that we are not personally comfortable with.

Additionally, it is difficult to understand how individuals practicing basic liberties outside of a “healthcare facility” are preventing access to basic healthcare. 

If our representatives are rendered unable to understand the importance of maintaining freedom of speech, assembly, and religion, it is not surprising that they cannot recognize the right to life of the unborn. 

Dozens of women, just this year, have chosen to walk from the abortion facility to the Cline Center, located across the street. Dozens of women, just this year, have chosen life because of the loving support of sidewalk counselors. It is now illegal for sidewalk counselors to offer this support outside of the abortion clinic.

We can hope that this shocking violation of basic rights will open many eyes to the shocking violation of rights that the abortion industry poses to mother and child.

The city of Jackson can attempt to hush the activity outside of the abortion clinic, but maybe, in that silence, we will be able to hear the truth of what is actually happening within those pink walls.