August 28, 2023

Chicago Alderman Pushes for "Noise-Free" Buffer Zones

Chicago Ward 34 Alderman Bill Conway (D)
Chicago Ward 34 Alderman Bill Conway (D) announced that he hopes to further impede pro-life advocates' freedom of speech by creating a "quiet zone" outside abortion businesses. Chicago's 2009 "bubble zone" ordinance already prohibits pro-lifers from approaching others within 50 feet of an abortion business's entrance. 

“They’re yelling at them, chanting, speaking through a bullhorn towards them. I’ve seen them handing out literature as well. It’s really all of the above,” Conway told Block Club Chicago. “All of this, of course, is meant to intimidate people seeking services or discourage them from getting access to health care at all.”

“People probably think this doesn’t happen in Chicago, and it does,” he said. “I think this shows that we really need to increase our efforts across every level of government to make sure folks can access health care and exercise their constitutional rights.”

Ironically, pro-life advocates are incentivized to use voice amplifiers due to the buffer zone ordinance. If sidewalk counselors are legally prohibited from speaking to women at a normal conversation range, it is the only logical way that they can offer assistance to abortion-vulnerable women.

Block Club reports that Conway will need to work with the Chicago Department of Health and the police department to designate a noise-sensitive area. Then, city leaders would need to pass an ordinance.

This follows the July "transition report" released by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson (D); in which he announced plans to prosecute pro-life sidewalk counselors for disorderly conduct.