July 29, 2013

Anti-abortion protests on Portland City Council docket

Planned Parenthood says a committee will discuss creating a patient safety zone around a clinic.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Anti-abortion protests that have taken place outside Planned Parenthood of Northern New England's Congress Street office will be the topic of discussion at a City Council committee meeting Tuesday night.

click image to enlarge

In this October 2012 file photo, anti-abortion demonstrators protest with graphic signs outside the Planned Parenthood of New England agency on Congress Street.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Members of the council's Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee will meet at 6 p.m. in City Hall to discuss "information regarding protests outside Planned Parenthood," according to an agenda posted on the city's website.

The city's website does not provide any explanation of what that means and Councilor Edward Suslovic, who chairs the committee, did not return phone calls Sunday night. Nicole Clegg, the city's spokeswoman, could not be reached.

The city's website did say that, "Please note, there will be no public comment on this item."

However, a message posted on Planned Parenthood's website said the council committee "will discuss the increasingly hostile protest activity outside of our Congress Street Health Center. ... We need to pack the room with Planned Parenthood supporters to show the City Council that Portland residents support the right to access reproductive health care free of harassment and intimidation."

Eric Covey, Maine Grassroots Organizer for Plannend Parenthood, said his organization is circulating a petition that asks the Portland City Council to enact a patient safety zone ordinance around the entrance to the health center at 443 Congress St.

According to the petition, a patient safety zone would create an area where patients could come and go without being confronted by protesters.

"Protest activity outside of the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has led to a hostile environment for patients, staff and volunteers, who have been verbally harassed, had their pictures taken and have been followed by protestors. These continuing patterns of harassing behavior create an unsafe environment," the petition states.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:



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