Friday, January 17, 2014

Questioning the Line

The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments Wednesday, January 15, 2014 in a case questioning the constitutionality of buffer zones at abortion clinics.

The case seeks to answer two questions. First, does the Massachusetts buffer zone law push the limits, or is it permitted under the court's 2000 ruling allowing some buffer zones? Next, should the court reverse the 2000 decision completely? This prior decision allowed Colorado to enact speech-related restrictions using a 100-foot barrier adjacent to healthcare facilities; a definitively more conservative court is hearing today’s case.

Massachusetts’s law currently utilizes a yellow line, painted 35 feet from the entrance to a reproductive health care facility. Anyone who remains standing within the line is asked to move beyond it. At the MWPC, we see this limitation on protester speech as acceptable and beneficial for all parties.  

The buffer zones in Massachusetts allow women to inquire about their health, seek guidance, and obtain treatment without the fear of physical harassment.  “State officials and clinic employees say patients and staff feel safer and find it easier to enter the clinics [because of the buffer zones].” The buffer zones still allow protesters to attempt to persuade women arriving at the clinic; it does not take away the voice of the protester but rather limits it in acceptable time, place, and manner.

The MWPC will always stand by the legislative rights of women to pursue proper healthcare. Please join us.  
“Supreme Court Considers Legality Of Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones”
“U.S. Supreme Court Skeptical Of Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law”

Brittany Straughn