Breaking: SCOTUS strikes down Massachusetts’ buffer zone law

The Supreme Court ruled today that Massachusetts’ abortion buffer zone law, which requires anti-choice activists harassers to stay 35 feet away from clinic entrances, violates their freedom of speech. SCOTUS issued their decision from within their own comfy buffer zone that keeps picketers outside their 252-by-98-foot plaza.

The fact that buffer zones are even necessary to ensure people have safe access to a legal, medical procedure is absurd, but that’s the world we live in. A survey by the National Abortion Federation found that 90 percent of clinics were concerned about the safety of patients and staff entering their facilities, 51 percent of clinics in areas with buffer zones reported a decrease in criminal activity after the policy was enacted, and 75 percent of them said it helped improve patients’ and staff members’ ability to access the clinic.

But, hey, freedom of speech is important too. So what exactly is this speech that must be protected at the expense of patient safety, dignity, and comfort? Well, clinic escort Michelle Kinsey Bruns is tweeting some of the “speech” she’s witnessed from so-called pro-life “sidewalk counselors” outside clinics in eight states over the last few years. 










Maya DusenberyMaya thinks that sounds suspiciously like harassment.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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