Supreme Court Declares Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones Unconstitutional

by Emily Robinson

The Supreme Court has unanimously struck down the 35-foot buffer zones that surround abortion clinics in Massachusetts. The reasoning behind the decision has to do with anti-abortion protesters’ First Amendment right to free speech.  

The 35-foot zones have been in effect since 2007, allowing those entering Planned Parenthood protection from protestors waiting outside. Protestors see it much differently, as one of their main complaints regarding the buffer cite the fact that they cannot reach those seeking an abortion that arrive by car. 

Chief Justice Roberts writes in his ruling explanation that the buffers “deprive [the protestors] of their two primary methods of communicating with arriving patients: close, personal conversations and distribution of literature.” 

If any of this made your skin crawl, you’re probably in the mindset that women seeking an abortion actually encounter aggressive, if not violent, protestors when arriving at places like Planned Parenthood. 

These “close, personal conversations” are often chants that refuse to see a women’s personal decision and logic in having an abortion. 

“Literature” is sometimes graphic in nature, which is manipulative propaganda. Also, let’s consider how big 35 feet is: 

 This is a 35-foot long boat. Not small, but definitely not too large where one cannot be heard shouting from one end to the other – so definitely not protestor proof!

And this is the end of an actual 35-foot buffer zone. Look! Actual literature being displayed! If the protestors are concerned that ladies within the zone are unable to see it, they should also be worried about their eyesight. 

Statistics show that abortion accessibility has decreased significantly since 2008. Court-approved invasions of privacy only ensure for these numbers to rise. I don’t know about you, but that is very scary to me.

Women seeking abortions can hear and see these protestors’ messages, loud and clear. Their First Amendment rights have not been denied or even abbreviated. These buffer zones are personal space for women making a very important and personal decision. Let’s try and respect that.


Images via, Press Herald,,, Boston Globe

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