Legislators looking at California impact of Supreme Court ruling on abortion clinic protestors

Court voided Massachusetts's law that keeps protesters 35 feet away

After the U.S. Supreme Court last Thursday struck down a Massachusetts law that requires buffer zones around entrances to reproductive health clinics, Bay Area legislators and pro-choice advocates are looking into whether similar local laws will be impacted by the high court's decision.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that First Amendment free speech rights were being violated under Massachusetts's 2007 law that keeps protesters 35 feet away from abortion clinics.

The decision stems from McCullen v. Coakley, a case out of Massachusetts in which anti-abortion advocates argued that they have the right to approach women entering clinics for "sidewalk counseling."

The petitioners claimed that the 35-foot buffer zones have prevented them from their counseling efforts, impeding their First Amendment rights.

Legislation passed in San Francisco in May 2013 created a 25-foot buffer zone around entrances to reproductive health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood facilities where abortions are performed along with other women's health exams and procedures.

The law was crafted to prevent anti-abortion protesters from intimidating women going to the clinics.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who authored the legislation, said that he was disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling.

"There is a big difference between free speech and harassment," he said. "Buffer zones allow for free speech but prevent harassment."

He said the decision left him "outraged," and that his office is working with the San Francisco City Attorney's Office to see what impact the ruling might have on the local law.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement that the court's ruling was "disappointing" and his office is still evaluating whether San Francisco's law is affected.

"The Court appears to have taken away from Massachusetts a balanced and effective law that helped protect public safety and ensure women's access to reproductive health care. The City Attorney's Office is closely examining the ruling and evaluating its effect, if any, on San Francisco's local buffer zone ordinance," Herrera said.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Huh
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jul 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Of course it null and voids the SF ordinance. These people are beyond stupid.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm

While I support a woman's right to choose, I have great respect for American law.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Nominations due Monday for TV30’s Tri-Valley ‘Coach of the Year’ award
By Jeb Bing | 0 comments | 172 views


Readers' Choice Ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Pleasanton Readers' Choice" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 21st. Stay tuned for the results in the June 23rd issue of the Pleasanton Weekly.