Despite having their own 100-foot buffer zone of protection at the Court, the U.S. Supreme Court Justices unanimously struck down Massachusetts' state-wide 35-foot buffer around reproductive healthcare clinics in this country with their McCullen v Coakley decision today.
They have just announced that it is 'Open Season' on reproductive healthcare clinics in this country.
According to SCOTUS blog, where the decision was being reported live, the issue is about restricting free speech in public spaces: "A state can go beyond narrow laws that block obstructions to clinics, and more broadly ban abortion protests, only if it builds a record showing that the narrower measures don't work." (More at scotusblog.com)
I am a long-time clinic defense escort volunteer in cities from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York. The idea that the people standing outside clinics screaming and yelling, chasing people into the streets, surrounding medical transport vehicles and threatening staff are there for First Amendment expression reasons would be laughable if the potential for violence wasn't so real. They show up to intimidate patients and companions and terrorize communities.
More than 300 acts of violence were committed against reproductive healthcare clinics just between 2010 and 2012. That includes eight murders and seventeen attempted murders since 1991. More than 80% of facilities have called the police and National Abortion Federation members overwhelmingly report that buffer zones prevent violence and make staff and patients feel safer.
Apparently intimidation and terrorizing those seeking legal medical procedures is now an important First Amendment expression of "free speech", according to the Supreme Court Justices. The Court has weighed the safety of healthcare providers and American citizens against potential violence and has decided they aren't worried...