Abortion Foes

Abortion opponents stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday as the justices heard arguments over Massachusetts' 35-foot buffer zone law. (Getty Images / January 15, 2014)

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  • What do you think?
    (Note: This is an unscientific poll.)

    Should the Supreme Court allow 35-foot buffer zones at abortion clinics?

    • Yes. Activists have harried and attacked patients in their zeal to stop abortions. 35-foot zones, although large, keep the peace.
    • No. With buffer zones, activists can't get close enough to talk to patients, and it's their constitutional right to be heard.
    • Yes. Buffer zones are common at funerals, polling places, even the Supreme Court, which has a huge no-protest zone. Surely the court can let states determine what size zones are appropriate for them.
    • No. It is wrong to infringe on free speech meant to protect human life.

The Supreme Court is expected to strike down a Massachusetts law that establishes 35-foot buffer zones around Planned Parenthood clinic entrances in Boston, Springfield and Worcester. The zones keep patients far from anti-abortion activists trying to impede them from (or talk them out of) entering the clinics. The Supreme Court in 2000 upheld a Colorado buffer-zone law, but three of the six justices who voted yes in that decision have left the court and been replaced by justices likely to vote “no” now. Those who oppose buffer zones say they violate the free-speech rights of activists trying to get their messages across to patients. Those who support them say they protect patients from harassment and intimidation. (In 1994, a gunman killed two employees of clinics in the Boston area.) Are buffer zones necessary? Do they impede free speech? What’s your view? 
 

NEWS AND VIEWS

Justices appear doubtful on Massachusetts abortion buffer zone law
Fox News, Jan. 15

Gentle protester wants court to end abortion clinic buffer zones: No!
Column, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 14

Supreme Court to decide if abortion buffer zones violate pro-life free speech
Column, Washington Times, Jan. 14

Uphold abortion clinic buffer zone
USA Today editorial, Jan. 15