Supreme Court to Meet on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Updated: Jan 15, 2014

Supreme Court to Meet on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone

The U.S. Supreme Court meets today to reevaluate the buffer zones set for protesters rallying around facilities that perform abortions.

The buffer zone sets a boundary of how far anti-abortion activists can come near the clinics. The court is meeting in response to a challenge to a Massachusetts law that set more restrictive buffer zones.

Supporters of the law say the zones keep clinic patients and employees safe from harassment, while protesters argue that the law keeps them from talking with patients.

"Massachusetts' buffer zone statute strikes the right balance between ensuring safe access to medical facilities and preserving freedom of expression," said state Attorney General Martha Coakley. "This law has enhanced public safety in a fair and constitutional manner."

Mark Rienzi, however, said, "The prohibition applies even to speakers who are entirely peaceful, do not engage in any obstructive or intimidating conduct," said Rienzi, a Catholic University law professor representing the group, "and seek only to proffer leaflets, engage in consensual conversations, or even just stand and display a sign or pray."

A ruling from the Supreme Court is expected in June.

Also this week, the Court refused to take up an Arizona law that largely banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy after an appellate court struck it down as unconstitutional last year.

Last year, the Court refused to block a Texas law that banned abortions in clinics where the staff doctors did not also have hospital access. The law caused the closure of about a third of the state's abortion clinics.

Publication Date: January 15, 2013.

Supreme Court to Meet on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone