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.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Jeffrey Spires

    Question: why can’t we bully the bullies? Maybe fire needs to be fought with fire…

  • gratuitous

    I’ll give the Supreme Court this: They’re consistent in their illogic. When they struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act last year, it was with the rationale that because there didn’t seem to be violations of Section 5 anymore, it wasn’t necessary. Justice Sotomayor likened that to tossing away one’s umbrella during a rainstorm because one was dry while standing under it.

    In the same way, the Court seems to be saying that because violence at clinics seems to be down, buffer areas are no longer required. Missing from their analysis is any recognition that legally enforceable buffer areas have stopped a lot of the violence at clinics. Fortunately, though, it also appears that the Court is willing to reconsider this stupid decision if some clinics get blown up or some doctors and patients get shot. So we’ll have that going for us.