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Jackson City Council to Consider Controversial Ordinance

Jackson City Council to Consider Controversial Ordinance
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Rooster's Restaurant Across From Women's Health Organization
Desare Frazier

Jackson's City Council is expected to vote on a controversial ordinance today that would place a buffer between protestors and the state's only abortion clinic. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

It's nearing the end of the lunch hour at Rooster's restaurant in Fondren, one of a number of businesses across the street from the Jackson Women's Health Organization. The facility provides abortions and other services for women. Ashley Laskin's family owns Rooster's. She says people opposed to abortion show up early to protest outside the clinic using an amplifier. Some come across the street with graphic signs, yelling at them and customers.

"A man I think he was on the speaker phone saying 'they're over he selling burgers while babies are being murdered in side', yeah" said Laskin.

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The clinic also plays loud music to drown out protestors. Residents and businesses have called police to mediate disputes. Today Jackson City Council will consider an ordinance to create buffer zones at all healthcare facilities in Jackson. Fondren is in Council President Virgi Lindsay's district. She's concerned about protecting freedom of speech.

"They're just there to offer help and advice to young women who maybe struggling with where they are in their lives. But then there are the protestors who are becoming very intrusive, obnoxious," said Lindsay.

Laura Duran is President of Pro-Life Mississippi. The non-profit organization opposes abortion and protests at the clinic. She says the buffer zones will lead to more abortions.

"If you put the buffer zones there then you're taking away our freedom of speech, our freedom to reach out to these women and you're also taking their freedom away from them to be able to listen and to be able to receive more information," said Duran.

The ordinance will prevent people from protesting within 15 feet of a healthcare facility's entrance.