The U.S. Supreme Court hears a case about protest 'buffer zones' - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

The U.S. Supreme Court hears a case about protest 'buffer zones' outside abortion clinics


Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court hears a First Amendment case questioning whether it's unconstitutional to restrict protesters to "buffer zones" outside abortion clinics.

The plaintiffs argue it's not free speech if their speech is so far away it can't be heard.

Massachusetts set up a 35-foot buffer zone around Planned Parenthood clinics that offer abortions.

Supporters say it's about public safety. Two abortion clinic workers were killed there in 1994. "We see a lot of protesters actually threatening intimidating doctors, women, administrative staff as they are trying to get in the building," said the President of NARAL Pro-Choice America Ilyse Hogue.

The buffer zone, they argue, is no different than restricting campaigning near places where people vote. "It's not that their messages can't be seen and heard but what it does do is protect the women and the administrative staff and doctors from that kind of in your face harassment that is really damaging," said Hogue.

But the Supreme Court will hear today from plaintiffs who argue the law targets only one kind of speech - people who oppose abortion.

That, they say, is unconstitutional. "What Massachusetts is doing here is picking sides in one of the most divisive issues in our country today].] They are saying the abortion clinics reps are free to speak but the sidewalk counselors are not," said Carrie Severino, Judicial Crisis Network.

The court upheld a similar Colorado law 13 years ago. There's also a law creating abortion protest zones in Montana.

Tracie Potts, NBC News.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KTIV Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Kathy Clayton at (712) 239-4100 x209. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at