Today, the Supreme Court voted unanimously to strike down buffer zones in front of abortion clinics. The 35-foot buffer zones were previously enacted by federal law in 2007 to prevent the harassment and violence towards those entering the clinics, such as the deadly shootings at two facilities in 1994.
But the law was revisited by McCullen v Coakley, where McCullen, a 77-year old grandmother in Boston, wanted to have quiet conversations with women on their way into an abortion clinic to urge them out of their decision to end their pregnancy.
Now, in a narrow decision, the Supreme Court says the buffer zones are unconstitutional because they stand in the way of free speech. Does the Court’s decision protect the intent of free speech? How are abortion clinics reacting to today’s ruling? Is it still necessary to have some kind of buffer to protect those entering clinics?
Lisa McElroy, Professor at the Drexel University School of Law and Supreme Court Scholar