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The Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that "buffer zones" around abortion clinics in Massachusetts shouldn't include public sidewalks. The ruling was in favor of "free speech" by the so-called "Abortion Counselors" who stand outside clinics with pictures of dead babies while screaming Bible verses at women seeking medical procedures.
From the Boston Globe
The US Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that banned protesters within 35 feet of abortion clinics, ruling that the law infringed upon the First Amendment rights of antiabortion activists.
The decision effectively overturns about 10 fixed-buffer-zone laws across the country, from San Francisco to Portland, Maine, but offers a framework for more limited restrictions around clinic demonstrations, legal experts said.
“They’ve approved the idea of this kind of law, just not the mechanism,” said Jessica Silbey, a Suffolk University Law School professor. “It was too broad.”
Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office defended the law in arguments before the court, said the decision left intact part of the law banning deliberate obstruction of clinic entrances.
“We will utilize all of the tools we have available to protect everyone from harassment, threats, and physical obstruction,” said Coakley, adding that her office’s Civil Rights Division was prepared to issue injunctions against “those who would threaten or harass.”
Supreme Court rules against abortion clinic buffer zones from behind its own buffer zone http://t.co/HtE80d5pva— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) June 26, 2014
SCOTUS: public streets and sidewalks beat the Internet and cable news pic.twitter.com/cFLrR5IZTP— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) June 26, 2014
Jessica Valenti in The Guardian
The supreme court's decision is not as unanimous as it may seem, and it is not the end: pro-choice activists are expressing outrage, sharing stories and organizing on the Twitter hashtag #protectthezone, and Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards says that the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts is "already working with legislature on a new bill to protect women from harassment".
But for the women seeking abortions in the days and weeks to come - and for the providers, workers and volunteers who put their lives on the line every day to ensure women have access to safe medical care - this ruling will impact them immediately. It will make women less safe, doctors and clinic workers more fearful, and violent harassers emboldened. This is not the "free speech" we're fighting for.
#SCOTUS just ruled in favour of the crazy people running after you with a plastic uterus when you go into an abortion clinic. GREAT.— Elizabeth Plank (@feministabulous) June 26, 2014
I have to say, the unanimous thing threw me. Dear clinics, get your cameras ready and your injunctions prepped… #protectthezone— Robin Marty (@robinmarty) June 26, 2014
Honestly, if crazy people were shouting at you on your way into Church, this buffer zone case would have been decided differently.— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) June 26, 2014