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Judge Rules Mass. Buffer Zone Law Violates Anti-Choice Free Speech

A new Massachusetts buffer zone law that prevents anti-choice protestors from approaching within 6 feet women who are entering abortion clinics and are within 18 feet of that clinic has been temporarily barred by US District Judge Edward F. Harrington. Judge Harrington ruled Monday that the law is unconstitutional and unfairly discriminates against people protesting abortions because it forces them to stand at a distance, while clinic workers are allowed to approach and escort patients into the clinic.

In his ruling, Judge Harrington stated the buffer zone around Massachusetts clinics violated anti-choice activists’ rights of free speech. Judge Harrington’s ruling is in direct conflict with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled in January 2000 that buffer zones around abortion clinics would not violate anti-choice protestors’ First Amendment rights.

Sources:

Associated Press _ November 20 & 21, 2000; Feminist Majority Foundation _ January 27, 2000, November 13, 2000

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