April 8, 2013

Letters to the editor: Mayor seeks to disband charter schools

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Portland Mayor Michael Brennan is using the uncertainty over Baxter Academy to try to undermine the progress of the Maine charter school movement, a reader says.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

It has recently come into light that Portland is trying to create a "buffer zone" to protect women walking through the doors of Planned Parenthood from the pro-life protesters who line sidewalks.

I had an abortion. I withstood walking in and having protesters scream, "I know you're scared, but you don't have to do this!" I never saw her face, but that woman's voice has haunted me since that day in October 2011.

I am fully in support of a buffer zone. While I respect what the protesters are doing, they don't understand that some of us do "have to do this."

I grew up in an abusive household. I've recently been diagnosed with personality disorder not otherwise specified. For the first time in my life, I'm in a healthy relationship. When I was pregnant, I was not ready for a child. I was emotionally destructive, my hands were bleeding from punching walls and I knew that someday, those fists would hit a child.

I'm in therapy now. Every day I'm recovering from my abortion, yet I've never regretted the decision to obtain one -- only the fact I'd gotten pregnant in the first place.

No woman should be screamed at for making a legal decision and undergoing a medical procedure. It is her decision to make, and she should be free to walk without confrontation. Creating a buffer zone protects not only the rights of the protesters but the mental stability of the woman walking in.

Lynne Schmidt


I am writing to urge the Portland City Council to fulfill its responsibilities in protecting its citizenry on the public ways in the area of Planned Parenthood on Congress Street by enacting the 35-foot patient safety zone ordinance.

Patients seeking health care and all pedestrians have a right to use public ways without being challenged, taunted or intimidated. The law also recognizes a person's inherent right to freely seek and obtain health care. This is what we all know as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

In some instances, women seeking health care and guidance from services such as Planned Parenthood are in a vulnerable state and would be quite sensitive to unsolicited remarks, pamphlets in their faces, grotesque graphics, picture taking and Bible quoting -- all designed to heap shame and intimidation on those who would seek professional counseling.

Patients are having to run a literal gantlet. In fact, just the proximity of the protesters leads to heightened stress. This is hardly protesting as protected by law. Rather, this is disorderly conduct, punishable by law!

As the weather continues to warm, it is doubtful that mere "extra attention" from police will suffice. Confrontation and intimidation are tactics used by zealots, and because of the close proximity of the two sides, cruisers passing by would only have chance occasion to see violations.

Distance provided by a 35-foot safety zone would serve to reduce tension and increase visibility. My personal view is that if these demonstrations continue with no council action, police presence may have to be incremented as the weather changes.

The City Council needs to be proactive given the nature of these types of demonstrations, step up and protect its vulnerable citizenry.

Robert Fritsch



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