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1st Circuit backs expanded buffer zones outside Mass. abortion clinics

By The Associated Press

BOSTON — A federal appeals court has upheld Massachusetts' abortion-buffer zone law.

The 2007 law creates 35-foot protest-free zones around the entrances and driveways of clinics that offer reproductive services.

Abortion protesters who filed the lawsuit last year said the buffer zones infringed on their First Amendment right to free speech.

Attorney General Martha Coakley's office defended the law, saying it enhanced public safety and clinic access, while still guaranteeing people's right to express their opinions near the clinics.

Philip Moran, the lawyer representing the protesters, said he was disappointed with the decision in McCullen v. Coakley and planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The July 8 ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court that also rejected the protesters’ claims.

Supreme Court stays out of Mass. abortion-clinic case
Justices refuse to hear appeal from anti-abortion activists who say law creating 35-foot buffer zone around clinic entrances, driveways violates free speech. 03.22.10

Mass. lawmakers want wider buffer zones at abortion clinics
Supporters say existing law too vague to enforce; anti-abortion activists say broader no-protest zone restricts rights. 01.01.06


Abortion-clinic buffer zone too strict, federal judge rules

Court: West Palm Beach, Fla., city ordinance requiring protesters to obey 20-foot buffer zone violates free-speech rights. 04.18.06

5th Circuit reinstates abortion protesters' suit

Panel says federal judge must try case because pretrial evidence doesn't prove whether Columbia, La., police violated activists' rights when ordering them to stand farther from highway. 06.11.07

3rd Circuit rejects Pittsburgh's abortion-clinic access law
Unanimous three-judge panel finds either set of distance limits could by itself be legal, but that combined, the zones violate First Amendment. 11.03.09

Abortion protests & buffer zones

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