Supreme Court Strikes Down Massachusetts Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law

By:  Warren Mass
06/30/2014
       
Supreme Court Strikes Down Massachusetts Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that created 35-foot buffer zones around abortion facilities and prohibited demonstrations, praying, counseling, and other pro-life speech inside those perimeters.

The lead plaintiff in the case — McCullen v. Coakley — Eleanor McCullen, said: “The court recognized our First Amendment rights, and now I’ll have a chance to speak to people one-on-one.” (Martha Coakley is the attorney general of Massachusetts. In May 2007, while she was attorney general, Coakley testified before the Massachusetts State Legislature in support of the passage of the “buffer zone” law, which was an amendment of the commonwealth’s Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act.)

McCullen, a 77-year-old grandmother from Newton, Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe how she felt about the ruling: “It restores your faith in the country.”

McCullen said that many women going to the facility are hesitant about having an abortion and that she and other counselors have persuaded hundreds of women to change their mind. “This is life and death,” said McCullen. “This is about a little child.”

In reaction to the decision, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, the Catholic archbishop of Boston and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement that read:

This now overturned legislation reflects an ominous trend in our society. Abortion supporters, having long denied that unborn children have a right to life, would deny that their fellow Americans who seek to protect the unborn have the same rights as other Americans — the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association; the right to participate in the public square and serve the vulnerable in accord with our moral convictions. Increasingly we see this trend evidenced at various levels of government. We are encouraged and pleased to know that with regard to this particular issue, our highest court has affirmed the American tradition of basic constitutional rights for all.

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