Repro-rights activists' misguided rap on Segal

UPDATE: More from Segal.

Linking to this post, the representative has cross-posted at RI's Future and Dose a longer response to PPRIAN.


It's no surprise that the Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island Action Network would applaud Representative Art Handy and Senator Josh Miller for backing legislation to implement a "buffer safety zone" around reproductive health clinics. What is unusual is how the group is harshing out on Representative David Segal, a liberal champion, for not immediately signing onto the measure.

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood is incredibly disappointed that our very own State Representative, David Segal, is not listening to his constituents and refuses to support this essential legislation. 


Instead, Representative Segal has decided to play politics with women’s reproductive health.


As an elected official who has pledged to support the enactment and enforcement of laws that help prevent violence, intimidation and harassment directed at reproductive health providers, their patients and their families, Representative Segal’s hesitation to lend his support to this bill is contradictory and harmful to women’s reproductive rights.


Now is the time to tell and encourage David Segal to listen to you.


Tell David Segal how the graphic, distorted anti-choice images make YOU feel.

Tell David Segal how the thought of a woman being too intimated or harassed to visit her own health clinic makes YOU feel.  ...

These kinds of buffer zones are controversial, not uncommonly dividing liberals, because of how they pose a conflict between free speech and reproductive rights. Ana Cabrera wrote about this subject in the Phoenix about eight years ago, but the story doesn't seem to be online is here. Although later proved a dubious source, a certain lawmaker made an interesting point:

State Senator John Celona, (D-North Providence), a pro-life advocate, also thinks the Massachusetts bill is unconstitutional. He believes passage of the bill would lead to similar bills, which would restrict a host of other First Amendment rights. "What would stop anyone from setting up buffer zones around any other building, such as the State House?" he asks. "We could have a hot bill here in the General Assembly, and would that mean everyone has to stand back 25 feet?"

Celona wonders how such a measure would have fared during the height of the state banking crisis. "Just think back to what that was like around here, with people marching up here in droves," he says. "Can you imagine what would have ensued if those people were told to stand back from this building?"

Anyway, the criticism of Segal is over the top, particularly considering his general support for the rights of women and other groups subject to discrimination, and the rep himself is taken aback. As he writes to me, via e-mail:

As a donor to PPRI, somebody who's met with them regularly, and who's sponsored bills increasing access to family planning, I'd say that this demonstrates bad faith on the part of PPRI's staffer. To call conferring with the ACLU and other people who are typically PPRI allies 'playing politics' is obscene.


Also, I think indicating that the bill has changed (35 feet to 100) and that the ACLU and other allies have refused to sponsor are salient.


But the key point is still this -- I haven't 'refused' to do it. All I said is I was gonna talk to the ACLU and other allies who are against the bill, and confer with PPRI on monday. 


Frankly, this is crazy.

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