Letter to the Editor: Madison Common Council actions must be better scrutinized

While I appreciate Patricia Johnson’s coverage of the buffer zone ordinance aimed at pro-life free speakers in Madison (see March 10th, 2014 issue), it appears that Ms. Johnson was not aware of an important recent development in the case when she wrote the piece.

After the Madison Common Council, under the tutelage of Ald. Lisa Subeck, unanimously passed the anti-free-speech ordinance on Feb. 25th, the very same Council, led by the very same Ms. Subeck, filed a “motion for reconsideration” of the very same ordinance on March 4th, just one week after rushing headlong into a clearly unconstitutional power grab. On March 18th, the Council will vote on reconsideration, but since March 4th, when the motion to reconsider was filed, the original ordinance has been in suspension, and thus not in effect either in whole or in part.

Further, while Ms. Johnson is to be applauded for her objectivity in her article, she seems unaware of two other facts that might have complicated her analysis of the situation somewhat. First, City Attorney Michael May’s prediction that the ordinance would be upheld due to US District Judge William Conley’s having denied a request for a temporary injunction, along with Mr. May’s confidence in the Madison ordinance’s security due to its affinities with an ordinance passed in Colorado and cited in Colorado v. Hill, overlooks the much more important case of McCullen v. Coakley. In McCullen, Massachusetts pro-lifers (including Eleanor McCullen, a seventy-seven-year-old grandmother and sidewalk counselor) challenged a commonwealth law that, just like the Madison one, sought to limit pro-life free speech outside of abortion mills. The Supreme Court, in opening arguments in January of this year, indicated strongly that such a law is unconstitutional. Mr. May’s confidence, therefore, may perhaps be better tempered by a greater familiarity with the goings-on of the United States Supreme Court.

Second, for consistency’s sake, while pointing out that Ralph Lang rightly sits in prison for planning to harm an abortionist, Ms. Johnson’s article might also have mentioned that abortionists not only plan to harm children, they actually do so on a regular basis. Harming children is their (very lucrative) job. Babies in the womb have heartbeats, they dream, they get the hiccups, they wiggle, and they suck their thumbs, and when abortionists begin cutting them into pieces with a scalpel, babies squirm, try to get away, and, yes, feel horrific pain. Not only that, but mothers are equally victimized by abortionists. Just this week, for example, on two separate occasions women were taken from the Planned Parenthood location on Orin Rd. in ambulances. We are right to condemn Ralph Lang’s plotted violence, but let us be honest with ourselves and also admit that “reproductive care” is a misleading euphemism for the dismemberment, cranial puncturing, brain suctioning, chemical scalding, hemorrhaging, uterine ripping, and general macabre horror that takes place every week at the Planned Parenthood right here in Madison.

Seen in this fuller light, the purported heroics of Ald. Lisa Subeck seem somewhat more complex, and the self-assured actions of the Madison Common Council appear perhaps more hubristic than bold.

Jason is a PhD student of History here at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Please send all feedback or additional letters-to-the-editor to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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