Monday, October 22, 2007
Help Me Howard: Abortion Protest
A group gathering to protest abortion, and while it is their right, can they legally protest next to an elementary school where young children walk by? Here's tonight's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Legally, children have a right to a safe passage to school. Legally, those opposed to abortion have a right to protest. In Tamarac, the two rights have met.
Amy Braverman: "And we just don't think it's right."
Every Friday from 8:30 to 9:00, as the kids walk into Tamarac Elementary the pro life protesters stand on the public sidewalk, holding their signs and their rosaries saying the Hail Mary in peaceful protest. At the same time, parents walk their 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds into school.
Ray Montalvo: "I have no problem with them voicing their opinion. They're entitled to that, but I think the location is poorly selected. You have young school children there."
The protesters say abortions are taking place at a clinic in the office complex next door. Parents say, then move over there.
Amy Braverman: "I know there's a clinic right there, but let them stand on the other side or somewhere else. This is a school. There's a school entrance sign, and they're walking through there with their kids."
Many parents go behind the protesters, so their young children can't see the signs. Amy Braverman first encountered the small group when she walked into school with her daughter.
Amy Braverman: "In fourth grade my daughter asked what an abortion was, and I had to tell her, and it was not right for them to dictate at what age I tell my daughter what an abortion is, what sex is, what anything is."
Amy asked them to stop holding up signs that say, 'Face it, abortion kills' and pictures of a live fetus. When they refused, she printed her sign and stood beside them, protesting the protestors.
Amy Braverman: "My argument is not pro-life. My argument is not pro-choice. It's pro-kids. What about the children that are here? Protecting them from having to see these graphic pictures every single Friday?"
The protestors won't discuss the parents complaints, answering in prayer.
Many parents agree with the protestors message. They don't even have a problem where they protest. It's the time that troubles them.
Amy Braverman: "Just for them to change their time, that's all I want, just to wait for the children to go to school."
But the protestors refuse, and, at 9 a.m., after the kids are in their classrooms they put down their signs and leave, leaving behind frustrated parents.
Ray Montalvo: "I think they're more concerned with getting their opinion across than they are with who it's affecting and how it's affecting them."
But, legally, do they have the right to stand here as children walk by, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "This is probably one of the most volatile issues around and should protestors be allowed to interfere with the relationship that a parent has with their own child morally people may disagree, but, legally, yes, they can, and there is nothing that the law can do to stop it."
Most of the protestors are from St. Malachy's Pro-life Committee. Their president Eugene Cunningham told me its our first amendment right and we want parents to know what is going on in the clinic, adding we don't consider our signs offensive.
When I asked why he couldn't protest after the elementary kids were in class, he told me maybe children should know, why not tell them what is going on? The director of the Miami Archdiocese's Respect Life Ministry told me, "We applaud the protestors. They pick that time to protest because that's when the women come in for abortions, and we hope to stop them from having the abortion."
Meaning, each Friday the protestors will continue to return, praying to stop abortions, met by parents pleading for one thing, just change the time.
Amy Braverman: "You're free to protest anything you want, but can't you wait until the children go to school?"
Patrick Fraser: "Some stories have gray areas. Some are black and white; this is one of those. The protestors are convinced they are right in protesting, while the kids walk into school. Many parents are convinced they are wrong, and, unless something changes, nothing will change."
Protesting a perplexing problem? Need a place to sign up? Contact us. Hopefully, the answer will be elementary.
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