Massachusetts House Passes Abortion Buffer Zone Bill to Counter SCOTUS Ruling

Several weeks ago, many pro-lifers celebrated the Supreme Court decision that overturned Massachusetts’ abortion buffer zone laws. The state’s laws forbid pro-life protesters and counselors from talking to abortion patients on the sidewalks and parking lots outside the clinics.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the decision:

“By its very terms, the Massachusetts Act regulates access to ‘public way[s]’ and ‘sidewalk[s].’ Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 266, §120E½(b) (Supp. 2007). Such areas occupy a ‘special position in terms of First Amendment protection’ because of their historic role as sites for discussion and debate. United States v. Grace, 461 U.S. 171 , 180 (1983). These places-which we have labeled ‘traditional public for a’-‘ ‘have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.’ ’ Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460 , 469 (2009) (quoting Perry Ed. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators’ Assn., 460 U.S. 37 , 45 (1983)).”

“It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas. Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir. With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks. There, a listener often encounters speech he might otherwise tune out. In light of the First Amendment’s purpose ‘to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail,’ FCC v. League of Women Voters of Cal., 468 U.S. 364 , 377 (1984) (internal quotation marks omitted), this aspect of traditional public fora is a virtue, not a vice.”

“In short, traditional public fora are areas that have historically been open to the public for speech activities. Thus, even though the Act says nothing about speech on its face, there is no doubt-and respondents do not dispute-that it restricts access to traditional public fora and is therefore subject to First Amendment scrutiny. See Brief for Respondents 26 (although ‘[b]y its terms, the Act regulates only conduct,’ it ‘incidentally regulates the place and time of protected speech’).”

“Consistent with the traditionally open character of public streets and sidewalks, we have held that the government’s ability to restrict speech in such locations is ‘very limited.’ Grace, supra, at 177 . In particular, the guiding First Amendment principle that the ‘government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content’ applies with full force in a traditional public forum. Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92 , 95 (1972). As a general rule, in such a forum the government may not ‘selectively . . . shield the public from some kinds of speech on the ground that they are more offensive than others.’ Erznoznik v. Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205 , 209 (1975)…”

“At each of the three Planned Parenthood clinics where petitioners attempt to counsel patients, the zones carve out a significant portion of the adjacent public sidewalks, pushing petitioners well back from the clinics’ entrances and driveways. The zones thereby compromise petitioners’ ability to initiate the close, personal conversations that they view as essential to ‘sidewalk counseling.’”

I wrote then in response to the Supreme Court Ruling:

“While the decision of the Supreme Court appears to be a huge victory of pro-lifers, we need to tread with caution. The court noted that they are not opposed to laws protecting abortion clinics, but the laws must be tailored to the specifics of the clinics in question. The Massachusetts law was ruled to be too broad and it was for that reason they ruled against it. The court was NOT protecting the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers. Instead, they only prompted cities and states to be more careful when they pass anti-prolife laws.”

“The repercussions of the ruling will most likely result in the Massachusetts legislature revisiting the law and pass a more restrictive law to protect the clinics involved. This will result in the re-establishment of the state’s buffer zone law to prevent pro-lifers from trying to prevent women from murdering their unborn children. More children will be deprived of every seeing the light of day or knowing what a single breath of air feels like.”

Massachusetts Democrats wasted no time doing exactly what I said they would do. The Massachusetts House passed a new bill by a 116-35 vote to re-establish the buffer zones around the state’s three abortion clinics.

The new bill allows for the violation of the First Amendment rights of abortion protesters by establishing a buffer zone of 25 feet from the driveway or entrance to an abortion facility for eight hours or until the clinic closes for the day. It also gives police the authority to make sure protesters remain outside the buffer zone, and it allows the state attorney general’s office to levy fines and compensatory damages against protesters or pro-life counselors caught impeding the way of abortion patients within the buffer zones.

It’s interesting that Roberts wrote about how speech on public sidewalks is protected by the First Amendment except when it comes to abortion clinics. Our constitutional rights only apply when liberals allow them to but they have no problem restricting those same rights when it goes against their agenda.

What I don’t understand about all of this is why would an abortion clinic care if a woman is convinced to have her baby and perhaps place it up for adoption? They don’t want to allow a woman to have a chance to change her mind. Clinics like Planned Parenthood are more concerned about making money by murdering unborn children than they are about saving an innocent life.