Supreme Court buffer zone abortion Massachusetts pro-life

UPDATE 6/16, 10:30a: All decisions for today have been released, and this one wasn’t included. We await Thursday.

6/16 10:04a: An important Supreme Court decision is anticipated, either in a few minutes or Thursday morning, on a case of significance to pro-life activists. Abortion proponents are also watching for this decision closely. So I’m giving you a heads-up and backdrop.

Buffer zone around abortion

At issue is a Massachusetts law that mandates a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, which pro-lifers cannot breach. Variations of this buffer zone law are popping up around the country, obviously to try to mitigate our contact with mothers about to abort their babies. This is about the First Amendment right of free speech. It is also about the Fourteenth Amendment right of equal protection, since these laws unfairly and unequally target pro-lifers, but not unions or civil rights protesters, etc.

Quoting, January 15, when oral arguments were heard:

Between the complete silence of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., on the issue on Wednesday and the very active commentary and questioning of Justice Elena Kagan seems to lie the fate of state laws that seek to protect abortion clinics, their patients, and their staffs.   It seemed apparent, in a new “buffer zone” case from Massachusetts, that the Chief Justice holds the key vote on how far such zones are likely to be restricted, but that Kagan may help provide some cover for a decisive ruling that mandated narrower zones.

The three dissenters from the Court’s last major ruling in favor of abortion clinic buffer zones left no doubt in the hearing on McCullen v. Coakley that they have not changed their minds, and it appeared more than likely that Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., will join their opposition.  If the Chief Justice were also to become an ally, buffer zones that are not confined explicitly to stopping violence or actual physical obstruction may well be doomed altogether- on strict First Amendment principles.

That scenario would clearly nullify a 2007 law passed in Massachusetts that makes it illegal - with a few exceptions - for anyone to “knowingly enter or remain on a public sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health facility, within a buffer zone that extends outward 35 feet of any entrance, exit or driveway.”


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...