‘Safe Zones’ Possibly Coming to STL Planned Parenthood

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — (KSDK) Two St. Louis Alderwomen are launching efforts to protect women’s reproductive rights. They’re proposing a buffer zone that would restrict where protesters can demonstrate outside Planned Parenthood health centers.

The new efforts have some demonstrators speaking out, saying the buffer zones are a violation of their First Amendment rights.

Every day in front of Planned Parenthood on Forrest Park Parkway, demonstrators from pro-life groups make their voices heard.

“We’re here to protect women and protect children and give them choices and options,” said Brian Westbrook with the organization Coalition of Life.

For some groups, this means standing in the center’s driveway and passing fliers through the patients’ car windows.

But Planned Parenthood workers say others aren’t as peaceful.

“People who stand outside Planned Parenthood health centers are very disrespectful,” said M’Evie Mean, of the St. Louis region Planned Parenthood.

She says some protesters even mislead patients and re-rout them to other centers

“They try to dress like they work with the health center and try to get people to check in prior to entering our parking lot,” she said.

“We need to be doing everything we can proactively to ensure the safety of residents,” said Christine Ingrassia, Alderwoman of the 6th Ward.

Soon, Ingrassia and Alderwoman Meghan Green are partnering with NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri to introduce a bill they say will protect patients. Part of that plan will be to incorporate a safe zone to keep protesters roughly eight feet from patients.

“Any additional protections that can be provided for patients trying to come get their health care at Planned Parenthood are welcome,” Mean said.

“If someone is pregnant, if someone chooses to access abortion services or a variety of reproductive health services, those will be protected here in the city of St. Louis,” Ingrassia said.

Demonstrators from the Coalition of Life group say they will challenge this plan from the state level through the federal level.

Ingrassia says she plans to introduce the legislation on Jan. 6.

The safe zones are only a small part of a bigger plan to protect reproductive health decisions. Ingrassia is also working to update the code of what constitutes discrimination on the job and other areas by adding reproductive decisions.

(Michelle London, KSDK)

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