By a 6 to 3 vote, the Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of legistlative buffer safety zones around abortion clinics in Hill v. Colorado. The Court held that buffer zones created through state legislation can be enacted to protect clinics and women seeking health care services. The decision tracked the Court’s 1994 Madsen ruling on buffer zones created through court-ordered injunctions, though by a narrower margin.
“This eight foot buffer zone protecting doctors, patients, and health-care workers entering and exiting a clinic is absolutely essential. Violence is still occurring at 20 percent of our nation’s clinics,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Buffer zones do not limit free speech – but help to curb violence. We hope more states will take Colorado’s lead in protecting women’s health clinics instead of waiting first for violence to occur. Pity that even on this, there are three negative votes on the Supreme Court and that we have lost one vote since the Madsen case was handed down in 1994,” concluded Smeal.
The Feminist Majority Foundation conducts the nation’s oldest and largest Clinic Access Project. Nearly one third of the nation’s clinics are protected by buffer safety zones. The Feminist Majority Foundation provided legal counsel for the abortion clinic in the 1994 Madsen Supreme Court case.