This morning, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law that established and protected clinic buffer zones—a mandated thirty-five-foot distance intended to keep anti-choice protesters and self-proclaimed “sidewalk counselors” away from people seeking health services.
These zones have been credited with creating a safe, clear path for those who, for a variety of reasons, enter clinics that provide abortions. As one first-person account explained:
These protesters don’t get the fact that most people are walking in for birth control and pap tests. How would they feel if I stood outside their doctors’ office, assumed I knew the reason for their visit, and screamed at them in front of crowds of people?
Of course, those celebrating today’s ruling argue that they wouldn’t need to scream if those pesky buffer zones weren’t in place. They could instead approach patients with ease and offer their judgments, literature and whatever else they’re carrying. The Court ruled today that anti-choice advocates should be allowed to do just that, given that speech can’t be regulated on public sidewalks. The problem is that what some characterize as simply offering a different perspective and options, others see as clearly aggressive and violent, as made clear by the #NotCounseling hashtag now gaining steam on Twitter.
Clinic bullies waiting outside clinic AFTER procedures just to taunt—“Remember June 26 2014 is the day you killed your baby.” #notcounseling
— ClinicEscort (@ClinicEscort) June 26, 2014
— NARAL (@NARAL) June 26, 2014