Supreme Court strikes down buffer zones at abortion clinics

This is the 35-ft. Massachusetts buffer zone that violated the free speech rights of abortion protesters.
This is the 35-ft. Massachusetts buffer zone that violated the free speech rights of abortion protesters. (Image: Planned Parenthood, Boston Globe)

I’m not ignoring the Supreme Court’s unanimous McCullen v. Coakley ruling against buffer zones outside Massachusetts abortion clinics. I’ve just been too stunned and too angry to speak intelligibly.

“The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests,” the court said. Such a buffer zone is unconstitutional, and violates protesters’ (aka “sidewalk counselors”) first amendment right to engage in “personal, caring, consensual conversations” with women seeking abortions.

Personal? Caring? Consensual? Bullshit!

A measly 35 feet violated the free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters!? Seriously? Who can’t hear shouting from 35 feet away? Who can’t read a giant poster from 35 feet away? Who can’t see angry, threatening faces and gestures from that distance? The only thing that 35-foot buffer zone inhibited was the pushing, shoving, poking, and actual obstruction of people trying to enter those clinics.

Who can forget the threats, intimidation, assaults, fire bombs, shootings, and murders that have occurred around abortion clinics? These are not safe places. They never have been. Thirty-five feet is precious little protection from those determined to commit such acts.

Planned Parenthood is already working to get a new Massachusetts law passed as soon as possible. Pro-choice supporters are sharing stories and organizing with the Twitter hashtags #protectthezone and #jointhedissent.

I’m hopeful that Massachusetts legislators have more common sense than the Supreme Court justices who struck down their law. I’m hopeful that their concern for the safety of women in their state has not waned. I’m hopeful … but not confident.

The war on women continues.


Update: July 2, 2014 — In response to the court’s decision, Massachusetts is already working on legislation to strengthen security around abortion clinics and Gov. Deval Patrick expects to have a bill on his desk by the end of July.

And this from the Twitter feed #protectthezone to the self-described “sidewalk counselors” who filed the suit:



7 thoughts on “Supreme Court strikes down buffer zones at abortion clinics

  1. Bullshit! That’ s exactly what’s between the ears of those judges. Everyone has right to go about their business on any public street without being harassed by nutbars with religious agendas.

    1. Absolutely. This had nothing to do with anybody’s freedom of speech. It had everything to do with religious zealots wanting greater freedom to harass and intimidate.

  2. I have not seen this kind of anger in my house since the women here set through the Clarence Thomas hearings, this ruling has touched that same nerve. I think these guys are in for a true “shit storm” that they are incapable of imagining at this time.

    1. Suffice it to say my dad, an ob/gyn, was one of the founders of Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma. You can’t get much closer to home than that. I am apoplectic.

... and that's my two cents