Seriously? The Supreme Court just declared unconstitutional the Massachusetts buffer zone law protecting abortion clinics as a violation of the first amendment’s right of free speech of so-called sidewalk counselors and persons handing out leaflets.

What about the women’s right to reproductive rights? What about the health care workers’ right to access work safely without interference? What about the freedom to access a clinic?

The work of Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project (NCAP) to defend abortion clinics and providers as well as women seeking health care has just become exponentially more difficult. We need your help.

The Feminist Majority Foundation took the first buffer zone case, Madsen v. Women’s Health Center Inc., to the Supreme Court in 1994 and won. This Florida case establishing a buffer zone through an injunction was upheld by the Court in 1994 and in today’s decision. We established for the Court the record of frightening behavior, harassment and intimidation of a Melbourne, Florida clinic. But why must harassment, initimidation, and terror have to be endured before women’s constitutional rights are protected? This decision will just embolden more outrageous violence against women and health care providers. The Feminist Majority Foundation has been defending clinics for 28 years against violence by providing security assessments and equipment, legal assistance and observers, and volunteer training.

Now the job has become harder, and we need your help.

Massachusetts passed its statewide buffer zone law after two young women, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, were killed and five people wounded at two Boston abortion clinics. Buffer zone laws and injunctions have helped to protect clinics and their workers.

Let us not forget that Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. Tiller, acted as a “sidewalk counselor” initially to gain information about the vulnerabilities of the clinic. Paul Hill, who killed the Dr. Britton and his escort James Barrett outside a Pensacola clinic, was mistakenly thought to be handing them a leaflet. Instead, he delivered lethal bullets.

Virtually every day, many clinics in our country – as well doctors, nurses, and patients – are harassed, intimidated, and terrorized. No lawful business should have to put up with the level of threats that clinics and doctors experience, let alone a health care facility providing women constitutionally guaranteed reproductive health services.

At this very difficult time, you can be sure the Feminist Majority Foundation will redouble its efforts to help clinics, health care workers, and women. Now more than ever, with clinics being attacked by state legislatures and with this blow from the Supreme Court, we need your help.

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Eleanor Smeal

Eleanor Smeal

As Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Eleanor Smeal has led efforts for the economic, political, and social equality and empowerment of women worldwide for over three decades.