Court Upholds Buffer Zones Protecting Clinics in Western NY State

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the creation of buffer zones around abortion clinics and reproductive health care facilities in Rochester and Buffalo and upheld a complete ban of anti-abortion protesters from that zone. In the same opinion, the Court decreased the size of the buffer zone around two clinics and struck down a complete ban on sound amplification devices around clinics and reproductive health care facilities. The Court of Appeals returned the case to the district court for more fact-finding regarding sound amplification and the allegations against one defendant. The case is New York v. Operation Rescue National.

In 1992, the district court created a 15 foot buffer zone around certain clinics in response to anti-abortion blockades and allowed two anti-abortion “counselors” to enter the zone and approach patients. In 1999, the district court expanded the buffer zone to all abortion clinics and reproductive health care facilities in Western New York, expanded the actual buffer zones around two clinics, and removed the provision for “counselors.” One of the clinics that benefited from the increased buffer zone of the 1999 injunction is the clinic where Dr. Barnett Slepian practiced. In 1998, Dr. Slepian was assassinated in his home; James Kopp, an anti-abortion extremist awaiting extradition in France, has been indicted for that murder.


New York Law Journal, Rochester News

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