Guidance for Sidewalk Counseling, Prayer, Advocacy, and Education Outside Abortion Clinics
Do not allow the government’s tactics to intimidate you. Public sidewalks, including those outside abortion mills, are still free speech zones.
Record (audio and video) all interactions while you are outside the abortion facility. The purpose of the recording is to provide evidence in the event of a wrongful civil or criminal action against you. We do not recommend publishing or sharing recordings without first checking with an attorney to make sure that this is legal.
Inform yourself regarding local ordinances that may regulate speech outside abortion clinics. These are known as “bubble zone” or “buffer zone” laws and typically prohibit approaching within 8 feet of abortion workers and/or individuals entering or exiting the abortion mill without their consent. Some ordinances also prohibit excessive noise (e.g., bullhorns or other amplification) directly outside abortion clinics. If you are unsure whether your community has enacted such an ordinance, please email us (click here) or call Life Legal at 707.224.6675.
Continue to engage in pro-life activities such as prayer, peaceful protests, education, and holding signs. Even if your community has enacted a bubble/buffer zone law, you may offer literature and counsel to women seeking abortion – you just need to ask if you can approach within the 8-foot zone.
Avoid physical contact with abortion clinic employees, escorts, and clients. Be aware that even if you are only trying to protect your property or that of another sidewalk counselor, you should try not to touch a hostile clinic worker, patient, or patient companion. It’s better to hold onto your property firmly than to push someone away from it.
If an abortion worker, volunteer, or abortion client assaults or threatens you, immediately call the police and report the assault, battery, or threats. You have a right to exercise your First Amendment liberties without aggression or undue interference.
Be aware that obstructing access to the entrance of the abortion mill could trigger a state or federal criminal charge or even a civil lawsuit depending on a state’s FACE Act provisions. If you are charged with a FACE Act violation, please contact Life Legal immediately.