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Victory for patient safety

Portland, Maine –– Planned Parenthood of Northern New England praised yesterday’s First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Portland may enforce Maine’s noise ordinance against protesters outside the Portland health center.

“This is a win for patient safety,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “This ruling makes it clear that the right to protest in a public space doesn’t extend to the doctor’s office. Once our patients walk through the doors of our health center they are entitled to care without harassment and intimidation shouted from the street below. Our patients have a right to a safe, calm environment when seeking medical treatment and the First Circuit’s decision makes that point clear. Today, like every day, we will focus on what we do best, providing high quality healthcare to the people of Maine.”    

In a statement to the Bangor Daily News, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, who worked on the case, said “protest are fine but once patients have run the gauntlet outside the clinic, once the door to the exam room or the consultation room is shut, that should be a sanctuary. People shouldn’t be barraged with screaming while obtaining medical care.”

Protesters use a variety of tactics intended to intimidate and interfere with a woman’s ability to access reproductive health care. In Portland, they often form a gauntlet along line the sidewalks outside the health center creating an environment that is upsetting and stressful for patients. Protesters will follow pedestrians down the sidewalk, photograph people and shout loudly at the windows of the health center to disrupt the delivery of health care. PPNNE works with the Portland Police Department and maintains a volunteer greeter program to ensure the safe and supportive access to the health center.

“Patient safety is our number one priority and we will continue to do everything we can to make sure Maine people can access the care they need free of harassment and intimidation from a few extremists. We appreciate the perseverance of the Attorney General’s office and the Portland Police Department for upholding the law and helping ensure the safety of patients and staff,” said Clegg.