1996 Clinic Violence Survey Report
Buffer Zones Reduce Clinic Violence
According to the 1996 Clinic Survey, approximately one-third (99) of all clinics were protected by buffer zones. In 1996, 17.9% (56) of clinics overall were protected by court-ordered buffer zones, while 17.6% (55) had buffer zone ordinances. Twelve clinics were protected by both judicial and municipal buffer zones.
Buffer zones have made a significant difference in the drive to end anti-abortion violence. Overall, clinics protected by buffer zones reported far larger decreases in every type of violence than clinics without buffer zones. Of the clinics with buffer zones, 23.2% said death threats had decreased at their clinics since 1995, compared with only 10.4% of clinics without buffer zones. Of clinics with buffer zones, 21.2% reported decreases in invasions, while only 6.1% of clinics without buffer zones reported invasions had decreased. Of clinics with buffer zones, 23.2% said blockades had decreased at their clinics since 1995, compared with only 15.4% of clinics without buffer zones.
The constitutionality of abortion clinic buffer zones, upheld in Madsen v. Women’s Choices in 1994, will be reconsidered again by the U.S. Supreme Court in Schenk v. Pro-choice Network. In October of 1996, the Supreme Court heard arguments in an anti-abortion challenge to a court-issued injunction creating a buffer zone 15 feet in front of abortion clinic entrances in Buffalo and Rochester.