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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law

The case could go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Abortion clinics such as Four Women Health Services in Attleboro can continue to require protesters to stay behind a 35-foot buffer zone around entrances, exits and driveways. A federal appellate court on Wednesday upheld a February 2012 decision by U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro that Massachusetts' 2007 law creating the buffer zones is legal.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals determined the state has the right to take "reasonable steps" to ensure the safety of people trying to enter abortion clinics.

"The Massachusetts statute at issue here is a content-neutral, narrowly tailored time-place-manner regulation that protects the rights of prospective patients and clinic employees without offending the First Amendment rights of others," wrote Judge Bruce M. Selya.

[Go here to read the decision]

This is the second time the law has been challenged by a group of abortion opponents. Judge Tauro ruled against the opponents in 2008, and the appellate court also upheld that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The lawyer representing the abortion opponents in the current case said the Supreme Court would be petitioned again.

"The same rules have to apply to all speakers," he said in a statement released to the media. "The government cannot put peaceful pro-life speakers in jail, but give Planned Parenthood free rein on the same sidewalk."

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office released a statement praising the ruling.

"We have always believed, and the court agreed, that the buffer zone leaves open the opportunity for civil engagement on public areas around these facilities while ensuring that patients and health care providers can safely access these facilities," a press release from Coakley's office states.

Attleboro is no stranger to abortion protests. Opponents can frequently be seen near Four Women Health Services on Emory Street.

Terese Bohaxiu-Dicastiglione January 11, 2013 at 12:39 PM
I believe that if an abortion protester shows up at a clinic with $300,000. to hand over to a woman, then maybe he/she can try to talk a patient out of having an abortion, because that is the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 18, not including college. I want to see them put their money where their mouths are! They want to 'save' lives but truly saving a life means loving, caring, feeding, clothing, sheltering and getting medical care for that child for 18 years.
Amy January 11, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Personality responsibility may be a good idea as well.
paul January 11, 2013 at 02:24 PM
When you go to the doctors office for anything, you have the right to privacy. Privacy is what the doctor patient privilege is all about and What Roe vs. Wade was about. No one should be getting in your face or showing you nasty pictures when you are on your way into a clinic, that's harassment.
RICHARD BRANDOLI January 11, 2013 at 03:36 PM
So if you don't have $300k then kill the baby? What parent has $300k at the moment of birth anyway? The elderly are expensive too so lets kill them. Come to think of it teens are expensive too. Sounds like killing babies solves all our problems....not!
Emcee of Seekonk January 11, 2013 at 04:12 PM
When Obamacare is in full swing, privacy will be out the window. There will be a database that will know every hangnail you ever had treated from birth to death. And that information will leak out all over the place. Protesting Roe vs Wade is a First Amendment right. Whenever I've seen anyone on Emory Street, they are carrying a placard. I've never seen any confrontations.
Gretchen Robinson January 11, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Emcee, Obama is the one political leader to stand strong on the vital importance for women's reproductive healthcare. Have you forgotten Paul Ryan and the Catholic Bishops trying to wrench the country to the far right during the election last year?? It wasn't so much about access to just abortion. Access to insurance coverage was at stake for women, insurance we had paid for, btw. So that's why so many women and enlightemded men voted for Obama. He stands up for women's dignity. And I for one am not going to believe Emcee's postings when I see things in hospitals and doctor's offices like HIPPA rules. As for health care, we need to work for preventative healthcare, something the ACA does!! And move from providing health care afterwards to helping people preserve their good help. You don't do that by cutting food stamps and having a population that can't afford dental care, which the extremist cost cutters on the Right want to do.
Richard W. Lunt January 11, 2013 at 10:30 PM
But then again, the Afordable Healthcare Act is too expensive and as a result, corporations are cutting back hours just so they can save money on the healthcare costs. Government mandated healthcare is bad for our country. People should have the right to choose to buy healthcare, not be forced into buying healthcare by big bloated Government.
Gretchen Robinson January 11, 2013 at 11:20 PM
I'm not going to go there RWL. Opinions differ. Let's leave it at that.

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