Two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts' protective buffer zone around abortion clinics violates the free speech rights of protesters, four other buffer zones around the country have already disappeared or been challenged in court.
The City Council of Portland, Maine, repealed its 39-foot buffer zone around a women's health clinic this week, and the cities of Burlington, Vermont, and Madison, Wisconsin, have stopped enforcing their buffer zones. In Burlington, people had been legally prohibited from protesting within 35 feet of the clinic, and Madison had a "floating" buffer zone that prohibited protesters from coming within eight feet of a patient entering or exiting an abortion clinic.
On Tuesday, the anti-abortion group Alliance Defending Freedom sued to challenge New Hampshire's new buffer zone law, which allows individual clinics to set up their own buffer zones up to 25 feet around the premises.
‘‘Americans have the freedom to talk to whomever they please on public sidewalks,’’ ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said in a statement. ‘‘That includes peaceful pro-life advocates who just want to offer information and help to women who would like it. The Supreme Court recently affirmed this vital freedom, which has been an essential part of American life since the nation’s founding. New Hampshire’s law suffers from the same unconstitutional problems as the one the Supreme Court struck down.’’