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What the Supreme Court Ruling Banning Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones Means

Walking up to an abortion clinic surrounded by pro-life protesters can be an extremely harrowing experience for a woman seeking an abortion. In 2007 Massachusetts passed a law to help protect women who were being repeatedly harassed and also subject to violence when trying to get an abortion. The law established a 35 foot protest free buffer zone around the entrance to a clinic.

The US Supreme Court in the case of McCullen vs. Coakley yesterday struck down that law claiming that it violated free speech rights granted by the First Amendment. The lead plaintiff in the case was Eleanor McCullen, a member of the anti-abortion group known as Operation Rescue who described herself as a peaceful “sidewalk counselor”. She said, “It’s America. I should be able to walk and talk gently, lovingly, anywhere with anybody.”

Massachusetts was only one of four states that offered a buffer zone for women entering abortion clinics. Pro-choice advocates are concerned that the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to dismantle this law will lead to more violent incidents against women seeking abortions.

GUEST: Adele Stan, senior digital editor at the American Prospect

Visit www.prospect.org to read Adele Stan’s writing.