U.S. high court considering buffer zone for Massachusetts health facilities
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law that prevented protestors from coming within 8 feet of anyone entering a health facility offering abortions. But now, the issue of so-called buffer zones is back before the high court, which heard oral arguments last month on a Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot zone. At issue is whether the buffer violates the First Amendment right to free speech.
Here are some of the issues justices weighed during oral arguments on that case, McCullen v. Coakley, based on news reports:
∎ Is the size of the buffer zone appropriate?
∎ Should there be a distinction between disruptive and peaceful protestors?
∎ Is it fair to restrict protestors but allow clinic employees, who may also attempt to influence the women’s opinion, to accompany women through the buffer zone to the facility?
The court is expected to rule in June.