Anti-choice extremist groups in New York City are protesting a proposed law to establish a 50-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in New York City. The law would make it illegal for anyone to “knowingly approach” another person without consent to pass a leaflet or handbill, display a sign, or engage in oral protest, education, or counseling within 50 feet of an abortion clinic.
In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of safety buffer zones in Madsen v. Women’s Health Center. Established to protect patients, abortion providers, and clinic staff from anti-abortion protesters, buffer zones currently protect approximately one-third of all clinics.
In 2000, the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Violence Survey found that one in five abortion clinics experienced one or more forms of severe violence. Since Madsen in 1994, FMF’s National Clinic Violence Surveys have shown that clinics with buffer zones report far greater decreases in death threats, blockades, and invasions than clinics without buffer zones.