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Pro-Lifers Fight to Burst Bubble Zone Law

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BOSTON - Outside many Massachusetts abortion clinics you'll often find a large painted line on the ground that curves around the entrance or exit and sets off a 35-foot area know as a bubble zone.
State law forbids any abortion protestor, sidewalk counselor or advocate from entering that zone to talk about the abortion issue.
Advocates of the law say its purpose was to keep partisans from harassing or intimidating abortion workers or customers heading into or out of those clinics.
But pro-life demonstrators and sidewalk counselors outside the clinics say the law is keeping them from saving lives because they can no longer effectively reach women headed to get abortions.
"It takes away the person-to-person aspect of it and puts you at a distance," longtime pro-life demonstrator Ray Neary told CBN News outside a clinic in Boston.
He said imagine trying to communicate with a pregnant woman from 35 feet away. 
"You have to yell at them as though you're in opposition to them, and you're not," Neary explained. "You're trying to save that child that's in that womb."
That's why friends of his, like sidewalk counselor Eleanor McCullen, filed suit against the law. McCullen v. Coakley is scheduled to go before the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 15.
Neary said because of McCullen's quiet counseling with pregnant women outside the clinics, she managed to save babies over and over again. 
"One of the women who comes here a couple of days a week has saved over a hundred.  And she's (McCullen) brought them to crisis pregnancy centers," Neary said.
"She keeps up with them. And they were saved by one individual who was able to stop to talk to them and tell them what's going to happen if they go inside those walls," she said.
Not only are lives on the line, but so is the First Amendment right to free speech. The law sets up a zone where pro-life Americans can literally end up in prison if they speak their minds about abortion inside that zone.
Rev. Paul Schenck, with the National Pro-Life Center, fought a similar case against bubble zones all the way to the Supreme Court years ago. He said they kill meaningful conversation.
"Imagine calling out to someone from 35 feet away, in public space no less," Schenck said.  "It's impossible to carry on the kind of quiet conversation that a situation that is that dire requires."
Twenty Years of Regrets
Texans Jeff and Tricia Bradford say if someone had approached them to try to talk them out of an abortion, they might have a 20-year-old daughter today.
As very young adults, they were five months away from getting married when Tricia found out she was pregnant. They were worried how it would shame their families for them to get married with Tricia displaying a prominent baby bump during the ceremony.
The young couple went to get an abortion without thinking much about the baby herself.
"We had believed all the lies that it's just a blob of tissue," Jeff told CBN News. "And so we went to the wedding really just not wanting to embarrass our family."
They didn't tell anyone about the abortion and tried to even bury it from their own consciousness for some 15 years until Tricia broke down during a counseling session.
"I had no idea how long this had been influencing my every thought, my every decision," Tricia said of the pain and guilt they'd tried to hide. "And ultimately, God just stopped us in our tracks."
"We had never mourned our child," Jeff said.  "We had never dealt with the feelings of abandonment, not standing by my wife at that time. You know, every woman is a life-giver and we didn't choose the life of our child. And I know those are things she had no one to talk to about for years."
Now Jeff openly shares their story and their regrets as he works full-time as vice president at Online for Life. This Texas-based group searches out abortion-bound women online and offers them alternatives and help.
Online for Life also maintains the website where Jeff and Tricia are pictured with the four children they're now raising.
"As a father of four beautiful children and through God's grace, my wife and I have now been married 20 years," Jeff wrote on the website.
"However, there is not a day that goes by that I don't regret my decision. After all, any good father would jump in front of a train to save the life of their child," he said. "The life of our first daughter, Sara, should not have been any different."  
***Read more of Jeff's story here.
More than 1,400 babies have been saved through Online for Life's efforts. Jeff believes such intervention by someone could have saved the child Tricia and he aborted.
"If somebody had stayed with us, would have stood in the gap, I believe we'd have a 20-year-old little girl here today," Jeff said.
Heart-to-Heart Talk Saves Babies
Evidence proves a heart-to-heart talk can really make the difference. Linda Rubis, from Frederick, Md., felt God prompt her to call her daughter one night several years ago. She discovered her daughter was at an abortion clinic.
"I said, 'Honey, God doesn't make mistakes. You need to save this child. You need to save this baby. It'll be a blessing,'" Rubis told CBN News.
Linda's daughter saved her own child, but also did more that night at the abortion clinic.
"She left there," Rubis explained. "But before she left, she spoke to two other girls there about saving their babies, too."
These days, science gives pro-lifers more factual information than ever to share what a complex human life is growing within the pregnant woman's body.
Linda Pototschnik, from Mount Airy, Md., spoke of one such stunning finding. 
"The little baby at six weeks has a billion cells and more information within his little body, his DNA, than every word ever spoken by every human being who's ever lived since the beginning of time," Potoschnik said.
An Abortionist's Change-of-Heart
CBN News met Rubis and Pototschnik at an appearance in Libertytown, Md., by Mississippi's first abortionist Beverly McMillan and her husband Roy.
Beverly shared how a truly divine encounter in her own car convinced her to stop performing abortions. The then back-sliding Catholic had just been looking at a scripture in a secular book when suddenly she felt something.
"Christ was in the car. He was in the backseat behind my right shoulder - as real to me as you are right here," she told CBN News. "And I didn't know what had happened, but I knew He was there."
Beverly had been performing abortions in Mississippi for years but became convinced she couldn't be both a good Christian and an abortion doctor.
"Carrying the abortion business into the holiness of the Church, something was not right with that," she explained.
Now Beverly and husband Roy are fervent pro-life advocates and their car is covered in anti-abortion bumper stickers. Roy said these are short but powerful doses of truth.
He pointed out, "One of my bumper stickers says 'It's easy to be pro-choice if you're not the one being killed.'"
Their efforts in league with other Mississippi pro-life advocates have helped close down all but one of Mississippi's abortion clinics.
Meanwhile, the fight goes on in Massachusetts and next week before the U.S. Supreme Court to put a needle in the state's 35-foot bubble zone law.
Rev. Schenck insists such a law costs the lives of babies.
"A woman does not have an abortion because she's pro-choice. She has the abortion because she feels she has no choice," Schenck explained.
"And what the sidewalk counselor is doing is making that last effort to reach out to her in kindness and love and offer her the support she needs to give her child life," he said. "Well, you can't do that from 35 feet away."

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About The Author


As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress. Strand began his tenure at CBN News in 1985 as an evening assignment editor in Washington, D.C. After a year, he worked with CBN Radio News for three years, returning to the television newsroom to accept a position as editor in 1990. After five years in Virginia Beach, Strand moved back to the nation's capital, where he has been a correspondent since 1995. Before joining CBN News, Strand served as the newspaper editor for