But the pro-lifers don't want a bubble zone to protect themselves from these forms of harassment.
They just want to be free to greet people in a warm and respectful way and provide information they may not otherwise have access to: information about fetal development and patient rights, yes, but also about LINK cards and housing assistance and fathers' rights. Right now, they can only attempt that if someone passes directly by; they cannot take a step or two forward to offer it: that's what the bubble zone means.
If this ordinance achieves its goal of making it harder for pro-life counselors to approach people in a civilized way, I was told by one of the sidewalk counselors, their next move will be “visual speech” in what is called a “Face the Truth” effort. To me, those horrifyingly grisly photos of tiny severed hands and legs and tortured little heads constitute a form of visual violence. But this sort of “carpet bombing” (with massive collateral damage) may be the unanticipated effect of stifling people's ability to freely communicate on the street. After a while, Planned Parenthood itself may beg City Hall to pop the bubble zone ordinance they themselves proposed.
This post was written for the Chicago Tribune's blog, The Seeker.