Supreme Court rules the dead-fetus people can get right in the face of women seeking abortions

The Supreme Court today overturned the Massachusetts law that set a buffer zone around abortion clinics as a violation of the First Amendment of protesters.

In its ruling, the court said the buffer zones prevented "personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives" to abortion, in violation of the First Amendment and that, in fact, by pushing what the court said were not "protesters" back 35 feet, actually encouraged "vociferous opponents of abortion" with particularly loud voices to scream out their protests.

Massachusetts could also enact legislation similar to thefederal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, 18 U. S. C. §248(a)(1), which imposes criminal and civil sanctions for obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Obstruction of clinic driveways can readily be addressed through existing local traffic ordinances. While the Commonwealth contends that individuals can inadvertently obstruct access to clinics simply by gathering in large numbers, that problem could be addressed through a law requiring crowds blocking a clinic entrance to disperse for a limited period when ordered to do so by the police. In any event, crowding appears to be a problem only at the Boston clinic, and even there, only on Saturday mornings.

The ruling is another Supreme Court loss for Attorney General Martha Coakley (also see the Melendez-Diaz case).



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I kind of figured this would

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I kind of figured this would happen since the clipboard charity/survey people have been getting away with similar harassment.


Similar, really?

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I typically walk from City Hall to Back Bay a couple days a week after morning meetings and run into plenty of the Save the Children/Girls/Whales/Etc. people. Yeah, they're annoying and try all those stupid conversation-opening gambits (I've gotten "Hey, go Red Sox!" because of the Sox hat I wear), but when you say "no thanks," they may try once more to get you interested, but they don't follow you down the street, they don't scream at you about how you're going to hell and they don't wave photos of what they claim are aborted fetuses in your face. But maybe that's just me.


I generally have no problems

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with the charity/survey types I encounter walking between my office and the T either. Like you, I say "no thanks" without even breaking stride, and that's the end of it.

And I agree with you that there is no comparison between the charity folks and the pro-lifers in front of clinics.



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the charity types also congregate near the Kendall Square T stop and I have had a few, guys mostly, that do get in your face, try to walk with you, and generally annoying. Granted, not as extreme as abortion clinic protestors, but harassing none the less.

Try walking through a mall

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Try walking through a mall where there are vendors selling lotions. I've had my hand grabbed and lotion applied. My elderly mother - the same thing! These are very (too) aggressive sales men.
I don't think they'd do that to a man and they don't take no for an answer. I hate to be rude to people but you have to be downright ugly to these people.

But ya, I thought the buffer zones solved the problem. Protesters get to yell yet people can still access the building and not be physically accosted.


Malls are private property,

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Malls are private property, so the government has limited powers to tell companies what they can or can't do on private property when people choose to visit.

They were not.

I was one of the people saying "WTF do you expect when you get a degree in liberal art?". I also walked by their site every single day and none of them bothered me at all.

Same experience

I stopped and talked to some of them and they were polite and receptive, even the night I'd had too many Manhattans and started telling them that they needed a project plan and short term, achievable goals if their movement was going to continue. In retrospect, I still think that would have helped but I probably wasn't the most convincing advocate at the time.

Good decision

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Whatever people need to do to at least try to convnice other people not to kill their babies is fine with me. Good call by the courts on this one.


Saving lives is always good

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Yes I am and proud of it. It's called being an American. But look at this particular issue this way. Many Pro-Life people believe with all their hearts that what they are doing is saving the lives of babies. That being their belief, I can see why they are so passionate. They would do anything in their power to save innocent lives; a noble cause. Would you walk on by if you saw a child or even a puppy drowning in a pond? I believe you would jump in and make every effort to save that life. This is what Pro - Life people believe they are doing and I say that makes them a heck of a lot more compassionate and decent than many of the people who put them down.


Dibs on your organs

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Hey, if the gubmint can compel someone to use their organs to keep another alive, why can't Dick Cheney - or me - require you to hand over your organs to save a life? Huh?


yes, they are

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Um, yes they are; especially the one's ripped from the womb in a late term/partial birth abortion. They are living, breathing and can feel pain. And it's not really for you to decide who is or is not worth saving.


Nor you

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The decision belongs solely to the woman.


Baby's life is precious

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The baby's life is worth nothing to you then? Because it is an inconvenience to the woman, the life of the child must be terminated. Sick!


Do you vote Republican?

Then you have made it clear that a child's life is nothing to you, given their agenda and love of starving and imprisoning children.

When you have endured a pregnancy and raised the child, we will talk about what "inconvenient" really means.


1860s version

1860s version: It's not for you to decide what a slave owner does with HIS property.

See the problem with this argument?

(My personal belief, for the record, is that abortion ought to be safe, legal, and widely available, and that a woman ought to have the right to terminate a pregnancy up to some point, for any reason or for no reason. So I'm not arguing for restrictions on abortion, I'm just pointing out that "It's the woman's body" is just as valid, or as invalid, as "It's a baby.")

"Fetuses are not babies"

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"...and Jews are not human" (said the Nazis)
"...and Blacks do not have souls" (said the slave-holders)



Another horrible decision in the same lines as Citizens United. How very depressing. Freedom of speech shouldn't be the same as freedom to harass which is exactly what these people are doing.


Not exactly

5 voted that the specific law here was too broad but that there could be appropriate restrictions, the other 4 would have ruled out almost any restriction.


While technically true that

While technically true that it was 9-0, in reality it was 5 justices ok with restrictions and even a zone but not one this big over a public sidewalk, and then 4 justices who are against any zones outright.


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Ya I'm probably in the minority in feeling this way but this will lead to women not getting the help they need.

Why would a woman, who is clearly already traumatized by wanting to have an abortion, now needs a bunch of of pro-life people screaming in her face while she walks into a clinic. That's the last thing they'd want to see.

Look I get their right to protest and free speech but you know this isn't going to end well at all for the patients. But there's a time and place for everything, this isn't one of them.

(It's like me at the ATM yesterday getting harassed by homeless people for money.. why? can I at least get 15 feet away from the ATM before getting harassed again)


Not all women are traumatized

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Not all women are traumatized by having an abortion and not all people who go to planned parenthood are there to get an abortion.


I'm not really sure on this

I'm not really sure on this site you're a minority at all in your opinion. I mean the headline itself shows his stance and I would guess more would align with him on this one than against.



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Nice headline from the pro-baby-grinding side.


Fetus Waving

Not all "pro-life" folks think this abominable behavior is a great idea, either. I know some who actually spend their time helping and supporting women instead.

Baby grinding? That would require something that is actually a baby - not a fetal pig like the whackjobs wave around and say is human.


Is that what you told your kids when they were little?

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You see, when you were in my belly and only 3 months old, you were a piglet. But then just when you turned 6 months the baby fairy came and waved a magic wand and turned you into a baby.

Don't get me wrong - abortion is perfectly constitutional. I get and agree with the legal interpretations.

To me it's also immoral - but my morals don't become laws.

Last I checked, pigs don't turn into babies either. Please explain exactly how and when that happens.


Fetuses are not babies

That is pretty simple.

You seem to have missed the point of the fetal pig comment - most of the "horror of abortion" posters those fools wave in faces? The ones with piles of embryos and early fetal development things on them - THEY AREN'T HUMANS!!!!

Seriously, you don't see such stuff "in the garbage at a woman's clinic" like they claim.

And, yes, my kids themselves noticed long ago that embryonic and fetal development in mammals pretty much looks the same up through a certain stage. Get over yourself.


What pigs?

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Can't say I've seen any pig posters. Maybe a Geico billboard or two.

Have seen the development posters - those are most definitely humans at a very early stage.

for the record - the two times I was outside Shaw's on Comm Ave waiting for my ride the anti-abortion people were quite well behaved. The most violent person was the boyfriend whose girlfriend almost had a change of heart after seeing the poster the lady was carrying.

I'm sure there are nuts out there too - but they are not all raving lunatics.

John Salvi

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was one of the nuts out there.


Stevil, what she was

Stevil, what she was referring to is the anti-abortion protestors who photograph-- I kid you not-- animal fetuses ordered from educational lab suppliers and claim they're human. They mangled them, covered them with fake blood & slime, photographed them. Then allege it's something found in a dumpster behind a clinic. It looks bigger and much more developed than a 12th week human fetus, but also just human-looking enough to fool someone who doesn't look closely or know better. And it's a pretty gross picture, so few people do.

All this dates back, so I don't remember the details, but I think it was the Village Voice that ran an article on it. This may have been the mid 1990s. Think about it: the anti-abortion crowd always has those blood drenched photos. How in the world would they get them? They're not from medical textbooks-- they aren't from actual medical procedures. A few were from crime scenes and police photos- chilling stuff, like full-term miscarriages where the woman dies at home, isn't found right away. Anyway, an Operation Rescue crusader took it upon himself to fake some of them, and a reporter figured it out and was able to replicate the photo.

I don't agree with you that abortion is immoral, but I would always defend your freedom to have that idea and live by it, just as I would defend any woman's right to carry out a pregnancy as easily as I would defend her right not to; I differ from Pat Robertson that way-- I don't think imposing abortion is easily justifiable, even in China.


Never heard of the pigs

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Do know they show the development posters though.

One thing - I am truly pro-choice - I just define that a little differently.

A woman should definitely have the right to an abortion in the case of rape, incest and health of the mother - in those cases the woman did not make the choice.

If you voluntarily jump in the sack both the man and the woman made the choice and need to accept the consequences.

And remember - a woman doesn't have a right to an abortion. What she has the right to do is terminate a non-viable fetus (viability outside the womb is the dividing line for when the state assumes a right to protect the life - states define that slightly differently - but usually between 20 and 24 weeks I believe). As science/medicine advances - that number could go down.

What is the difference?

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Why should the events surrounding conception matter? Unless you've decided that it is okay to punish a woman for having sex, of course...


Getting pregnant is not a punishment

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It's a consequence - mostly of irresponsible, but occasionally responsible behavior.

If you are not adult enough to accept the consequences of your behavior, you are not adult enough to be engaging in sexual activity.

That goes for the man and the woman - although the woman definitely bears the harder burden. Sorry, I didn't make the rules of biology.

Then why...

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Are they not aware of modern medicine?

Barriers to contraception

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Is just one reason (remember SCOTUS is also considering if employers can block such coverage for their employees...). Woefully inadequate sex education is another.

And sometimes a woman decides that an abortion is called for, even to end a wanted pregnancy.

Your assumption is that abortions are done because some irresponsible woman got herself knocked up and just doesn't want to deal with it. This is a sexist and obnoxious assumption on your part. I'm not going to claim that that doesn't happen, but I am going to dispute that it is the case with most abortions.

Regardless, so far SCOTUS has ruled that is simply isn't any of your business why a woman wants an abortion. Hopefully they have the wisdom to keep it this way.

Birth control is not 100% foolproof.

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Birth control is not 100% foolproof. Birth control methods can and do sometimes fail. This can and does happen despite the best efforts on the part of a woman to act responsibly and use birth control. Abortion has to be kept safe and legal. People who want abortions should not be denied the right to have them.

Some libertarian you are, Stevil!

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I believe that the government should just stay the hell out of a woman's intimate decisions.

If you honestly believe that the government can make these decisions, are you going to give Dick Cheney your heart on demand? He can't live without it, after all, and you seem to think the government can compel a woman to use her organs to sustain a being she doesn't want to sustain!


Are you kidding?

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After 5-6 months, even the government says you have to sustain that life - the woman's opinion doesn't matter.

I have libertarian leanings. I'm not an anarchist.The government has a responsibility to protect life. They define that as the moment of viability - after that if the woman intentionally kills the fetus it's homicide.

And again - rape, incest, health of the mother are exceptions - your argument about Dick Cheney's heart (I thought he didn't have one) - is illogical.

I just

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expect to be flamed by any comments about pro/anti abortion folks :) That is all.

Worth noting...

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That plenty of these women aren't even going to Planned Parenthood for abortions, just for routine women's health care. Thanks, graphic fetus pictures were just what this affordable mammogram was missing.


Doesn't make a difference to them

Those protestors don't want women to have anything Planned Parenthood has to offer. If a woman takes charge of her reproductive health, she might have SEX and not for the express purpose of pumping out babies. Best to keep everything down there a mystery until it's being used as God intended, see.


In the opinion, the Supreme

In the opinion, the Supreme Court thinks that the people protesting outside these clinics are just benign counselors casually and softly handing out advice and literature to women going inside. A quick visit to the Comm Ave Planned Parenthood on any Saturday morning would quickly disavow them of that view. Even if a few of them are like that, the vast majority of them are loud, in your face and screaming at the women going by, and comically at people who are walking by to get coffee or whatever and not even going near the clinic.

I'm not surprised this went down but am surprised that the supposed "liberal' justices joined in the opinion. But they did not say buffer zones themselves uniformly are unconstitutional, but just the way this one blocks so much sidewalk access is. The Comm Ave clinic is the hardest because the entrance is right on the sidewalk; whereas in Worcester the entrance is well set back. It looks like the Legislature is going to have to do something similar to what NYC did and tailor the law to make it illegal to obstruct the entrance and also to harass people within a few feet of the entrance, but won't be able to prevent people from getting very close and effectively creating a gauntlet for women to get through before the door. Not a great result but better than nothing I guess.

Disappointing ruling. Makes me wonder if any of these Justices have ever actually seen what goes on out there. Boston police cannot be thrilled either, this makes their job much more difficult. Now officers will have to be there non-stop trying to figure out what specifically constitutes harassment and what is just "counseling" as the Court termed it. Commissioner Evans is quoted in the Court's opinion about how his officers needed this bright-line law to keep the clinics and people nearby safe.


RIP Shannon Lowney

She was my neighbor. She was "counseled" by John Salvi.

I wonder if the Supreme Court would like to be gently counseled by the "open carry" ammosexuals? I suspect they have special rights not to.


That was so wretched.

And then I moved up to Portsmouth where Salvi was a well known stinking little weasel.

The thing that blows my mind is how the dong bangers always do most of the toxic braying about this stuff when they'll never be faced with the choice either way.

It's really a despicable last ditch attempt at remote vagina control by control psychos who can't control themselves.


Why is our public mental health

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policy(s) a clusterf*uck? This business of large numbers of zombiefied seriously mentally ill people roaming our streets, many homeless, began in earnest in the 70s. This is also when it became really difficult if not impossible to hospitalize seriously mentally ill people with a potential of danger towards others and themselves against their will because 'advocates' said it was a violation of their rights. Then of course 'community' based care, were these poor souls are just doped up and sent on their way, became fashionable, and still is. It's why if you ever take a bus ride in often dangerous inner city neighborhoods, you'll encounter these poor souls. More often than not they are the ones victimized not the other way around, yet the status quo continues. I mention this because John Salvi is an example if our failed public mental health policies over the past half century. ALL contemporary mass shootings are also examples of the dismal failure of our public mental health policy.

Headline is wrong

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Or at least incomplete. Women getting any sort of health services in a clinic which also offers abortion services will be subjected to all manner of horrific abuse up close and personal-like now.


Also incomplete in that men

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Also incomplete in that men walking by Planned Parenthood just to get to Shaw's to get groceries in Allston are already subjected to abuse. Cannot imagine this will improve that behavior either.


"Horrific abuse"?

I don't think being shown disturbing photos or even being yelled at constitutes "horrific abuse". Anti- war protesters of old employed similar tactics, back when people cared about such things. No adult's brain should be so sensitive that the communication of ideas or information can be somehow construed as "horrific abuse."

It all hangs on the definition, doesn't it.

What defines "harassment?"

I don't think I or anyone else has a "right not to be offended."

I think if someone on a public street yells at me, insults me, berates me, calls me names, shows me disturbing pictures, tells me that I'll likely go to hell, generally makes me feel lousy, etc... that's all legally protected speech. It doesn't cross the line until I'm threatened, my way is physically blocked, or I'm placed in reasonable, justified fear for my safety.

Freedom is messy. Freedom of speech allows people to say pretty unpleasant things.

I get free speech and all that...

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but getting in someone's face and screaming at them is or making it difficult to proceed to where they want to go is a form of harassment and no one should have the right to do that to another person.


And they don't have that

And they don't have that right. The opinion specifically says that the state is free to enforce anti-harassment laws, anti-obstruction laws, seek fact-specific injunctions, etc.


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Yeah. I get it. But when you are trying to get to Planned Parenthood for an appointment, and your way is blocked by above aforementioned screamers-in-faces, anti any law is not going to make a difference at that particular moment.

If you have to fight your way through the mob

If you have to fight your way through the mob, then they are not simply protesting or speaking, they are committing assault and battery upon you, which remains illegal.

If, on the other hand, you have to walk past a mob yelling at you, for sure it's unpleasant, but unfortunately not an unpleasantness the law has any business trying to prevent.

*You* run that gauntlet

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That these so called "Christians" think there is anything civilized about shouting at women they are murders and will be going to hell is pretty damned horrific, yes. And that is the mild stuff.


I'm not saying its nice

I'm not saying it's nice, or pleasant, or that the protesters are decent people.

Nevertheless, the right to stand on a public street and berate someone and express the opinion that they're headed to hell seems to be pretty central to the idea of protected speech.

You've never been through it.

You've never been through it. You don't know. Many- not all, but many- of them are assholes, and many of them make veiled threats like, "If i weren't such a coward, I'd get a gun and end your babykilling. Maybe God will give me the strength."

Threatening someones life is illegal

"If i weren't such a coward, I'd get a gun and end your babykilling. Maybe God will give me the strength."

Threatening someone's life is illegal and should be prosecuted. That's independent of any "free speech zone" regulation..

It's not easy to draw the line, of course. Some of these statements are OK and some are clearly not. Consider if someone says:
"I think anyone seeking an abortion should be killed."
"I think it's OK to murder anyone seeking an abortion."
"I would like to murder anyone seeking an abortion."
"I would like to murder you."
"I would like to murder you and I hope I find the strength to do so."
"Someone ought to murder Joe Jones."
"Someone ought to murder Joe Jones and here's his picture and his home address."

It's fuzzy. Life is fuzzy. We have legislators and courts and things like that to help sort out the fuzziness.

So does that mean if one of

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So does that mean if one of the protesters gets in your personal space and you feel threatened that you can punch one of them in the f**ing mouth? I mean does your right to defend yourself kick in at that moment?


If you're in Florida

and you feel threatened you can shoot them under Stand Your Ground. Would be interesting to see THOSE two arguments collide.

On a more serious note, I wonder if this ruling means people can follow the Justices around and scream in their faces whenever they are in public? Is it unconstitutional for security/secret service to move people away? And what about those so-called "First Amendment Zones?"



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defending yourself if another person invades your space in anyway is a legal right. Using excessive force, however, is not, however, and can land you in a ton of trouble.

The problem is

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Getting the right women (with input from the partner/penis person who helped with conception) to use birth control (INCREDIBLY EASY TO GET, TO USE, CHEAP TO BUY OR GET FOR FREE), or in extreme circumstances, abort, but abortion should be considered a last resort, not casually applied like make up. Unfortunately, our social services are swamped and overloaded by a perniciously large minority of 'poor' women, whose numbers miraculously never seem to bottom out or decline year after year, no matter how much public and private $ is spent on the issue in providing 'free' or heavily subsidized healthcare, housing, food, child services, etc. I understand shit happens and so-on but when it happens on a tedious basis to a significant percentage of the population who can least care for themselves or for children, but are now hardened to expect all kinds of 'free' services (entitlements), and when there's various industries built around these (public and private) that rely mostly on taxpayer public funding, it's of course a big problem. I know I'm being a little mean spirited, but believe me when I tell you I've had anything but an easy or privileged life, and like many, many women and men, am tired of this shit

BTW: Isn't one of the reasons always given for why we require unending, massive (mostly uneducated and unskilled legal and illegal 3rd world) immigration is because OUR BIRTH RATES ARE TOO LOW? Maybe as a society we should be encouraging HIGHER birthrates among our population who can handle and care for their children? Sounds like a plan.

You're male, I take it?

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I've obviously never been in a position to need an abortion, either, but I've never read anything compelling that proves lots of women are thinking abortions can be "casually applied like make up."


Re: "makeup"

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It may be traumatizing every time, but I know women who've had 4, 5 abortions. A little responsibility goes a long way. If you don't want children and get pregnant 5 times, you're an absolute moron.


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Where are the men who are also responsible for these 4 or 5 pregnancies?


Always blame the men

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Birth control is more reliable than condoms

Condoms aren't

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a form of birth control? So you're saying the woman should take care of the birth control so the guys can just enjoy themselves.

If you read the decision, the

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If you read the decision, the protestors actually AREN'T allowed to get in people's faces. The court's reasoning for striking down the buffer is that laws against intimidation and blocking an entrance or public street are already enough. Personally, I'm seeing this as a "be careful what you wish for" type of thing. The buffer sort of gave the protesters (ironically) a safe space where they could do what they want. That's gone now.

Good point

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The problem is you have to balance that with the justices' descriptions of the "petitioners" just wanting to have a quiet little chat and then recall why the legislature felt compelled to pass the buffer-zone law in the first place.

It'd be like ruling we don't need laws against voter discrimination anymore because the laws we had succeeded in blocking voter discrimination. Oh, wait ...


They're called "petitioners" because that's what they are

Come on Adam. I realize you're in the tank for your preferred side on this, but are you really so dense as to not realize SCOTUS is calling them "petitioners" because that's the legal term for what they are in the context of the case? They petitioned SCOTUS for the writ of certiorari that SCOTUS granted to hear the case. "Petitioner" is not being used as some euphemism for protester.

Try actually reading more than one SCOTUS opinion.

Doh, you're right, but I'm not sure that makes it better

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Yes, I realize what a "petitioner" is, but for some stupid reason, in my rush to post this, I got "petitioner" and "protester" conflated and thought the court was referring to them as acting as "petitioners" (you know, as in your right to petition the government).

That having been said, where I got tripped up was this section:

While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives.

That's some high-grade BS right there. People calling women walking by a medical clinic "murderers" are not "protesters?" Really? The more I read this decision, the more I think maybe the Commonwealth didn't do the best job presenting its case.


You do realize that specific

You do realize that specific individuals sued MA, right? And the record states that those specific individuals were doing exactly what you quoted (i.e. not going around screaming "murderers" at women). Do you have any evidence that the specific individuals that sued MA were doing anything other than what they said they were doing?

Or are Breyer, Kagan, and Ginsburg now part of the vast right-wing conspiracy?

Sorry, Adam, I love this blog

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Sorry, Adam, I love this blog but your rush to judgment (pun intended) on the court's use of the term "petitioner" in this (and every single) decision, coupled with your failure to understand that a case is decided based upon the facts presented, suggests you should've taken a breath, and possibly some anxiety meds, before posting this on your blog. I get it, your blog, your rules.

The court struck down this one particular law in Mass. Don't like it? Work to adopt one in Mass that is consistent with this opinion. I'm sure a bunch of interested parties are already working on that since the decision came down this morning.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.

Warp back into this plane of reality, Quantum

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The 2007 law, which created the buffer, became a law because there was a previous history of harassment by folks just wanting to have "personal and caring" conversations with people walking into clinics. And then there was the gunman who probably only wanted to have a conversation regarding "various alternatives" which resulted in the death of receptionists and the wounding of five folks at two Brookline, MA clinics in 1994.

The Salvi case is not a good reference point

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He wasn't an Operation Rescue person, and the protesters testified against him in the murder trial.

Besides, if they waited 13 years to pass this, and no one was murdered at abortion clinics in Massachusetts (thankfully) in the meantime, wouldn't that prove that the law was unnecessary.

I made the comment you

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I made the comment you replied to, and I agree with you, so not sure why you needed the snark. The difference with the voter intimidation is the court expressly says no cops at the polling place. No such rule here. All I'm saying is lets get some cops over at PP and start enforcing some intimidation rules.

The Court completely

The Court completely discounted the evidence that the state and police already tried those methods and they have been too difficult to enforce and not made women any safer outside these clinics. Very disappointing.


The evidence that the state

The evidence that the state tried wasn't very compelling. As the Court pointed out, if Coakley could assemble tapes of alleged lawbreaking to convince the legislature to pass the 2007 act, why didn't she bother to use those tapes to, you know, prosecute lawbreakers?

The lack of prosecutions does

The lack of prosecutions does not mean that there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Prosecuting these types of harassers is exceedingly difficult for a number of reasons. It's hard enough for the police to decipher what is harassment and what is not in these close encounters, the very reason the BPD wanted a clearer law. Even if an arrest is made, it is difficult to prove and reliant mostly on witness accounts from a usually chaotic scene outside these clinics. Never mind your best witness is a woman who was just harassed while trying to go see a doctor in a private setting and might not want to broadcast all that to a courtroom. This is one of many reasons why the zone is necessary.

Ok so maybe I took a dose of

Ok so maybe I took a dose of stupid today but for some reason this confuses me

by pushing what the court said were not "protesters" but "petitioners" back 35 feet, actually encouraged "vociferous opponents of abortion" with particularly loud voices to scream out their protests.

How does pushing people back 35 feet encourage them? If you are vehemently opposed to abortion you are probably going to oppose it with a particularly loud voice whether you are 5 feet away or 35 feet away. And I would think that if you are screaming out a protest that you have gone beyond a petitioner and are now a protester.

It encourages screaming

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Because that's the only way to make yourself heard from 35 feet away, at least according to the court.

Mayor: City will protect people going into clinics

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Statement by Mayor Walsh:

I am extremely disappointed in the Supreme Court ruling today to overturn the buffer zone around health care facilities that provide abortion care. This law was passed with the support of law enforcement who wanted a strong mechanism for ensuring public safety and protecting the safety of health center patients and staff. A woman seeking reproductive health care should not be harassed, judged or shamed. The buffer zone allows protection from this harassment while also still allowing protesters to exercise their first amendment rights. As Mayor, I will do everything in my power to ensure the safety of the women seeking care and the staff that work at these facilities. Planned Parenthood and every woman in this city has my support and I will work tirelessly to ensure their protection


Yup, thanks mayor

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Two things:

Whats keeping the city from just selling the property to the curb to these clinics, thereby making them private property and trespassing? Do it and get it over with. Obviously "protestors" can't impede a public street, so problem solved from street to door.

Second, maybe it is time for a stand your ground doctrine. Most of the good "christian protestors" act in a way that in some states would allow someone to kill them and call it self defense. Just saying.

(Have no problem with real protestors, but lets pretend how these thugs act)

Third, looks like "protest zones" at the DNC/RNC/WTO are all but dead. I don't see how this isn't allowed, but corralling protestors into cages because of political events is.


One out of three, Marty

A woman seeking reproductive health care should not be harassed, judged or shamed.

Harassed -- yup, the law should protect against harassment.

Judged -- Nope. Some people believe that abortion is evil and sinful. That's a legitimate moral position -- not one I personally agree with, and not one the law aligns with, but everyone is free to make his or her own moral judgments about others.

Shamed -- Nope. Shaming people who are engaging in activities you consider to be immoral is pretty clearly protected speech.

55,000,000 killed since Roe. Now, if just one life is saved...

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55,000,000 killed since Roe v. Wade and you're apoplectic about some people outside praying? Really shameless. Good for SCOTUS, especially the Clinton and Obama appointees who must be under tremendous pressure to put far-left politics ahead of the Constitution. The rare, unanimous decision says it all. Good for the pre-born children also. Maybe one will live to cure cancer. As the left likes to say about everything from gun laws to bans on sugary drinks, "even if just one life is saved, it will be worth it."

Women have the right to

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Women have the right to decide if they want to have a child or not.

Should I stop taking birth control pills, or start hooking up in bars, because the unwanted children I'm not currently having might live to cure cancer?


I bet you care for these

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I bet you care for these unborn right up until they.are.born. Then these women are just freeloaders - right? Get over yourself.

Maybe we need to start "counseling" the NRA the way the pro-fetus people "counsel" women going to a health clinic.


How about instead of

How about instead of screaming outside of abortion clinics these same protesters spent time screaming outside of Hobby Lobby to protest its stance on covering employees' contraception, screaming outside of Congress so that it passes some decent family-friendly leave and child-care requirements, or screaming at deadbeat parents who don't pay for child support. Or, not screaming, and teaching people how to prevent those pregnancies before they happen.

It seems to me that if these protesters' goal was to "save lives" there are many more ways to do it that would actually work.

But, no, let's just waive pictures of dead fetuses at women who may or may not be going to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. Yeah, that's the ticket.


An even better idea

Require any hospital receiving public funding to provide all womens health services including abortion services. VA and military hospitals included.

We don't have special erectile dysfunction clinics, after all.



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I think one of the kids who died at Sandy Hook was supposed to cure cancer, but you know... Second Amendment perversion and all...


55,000,000 what?

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You can't kill something that isn't alive. "Unborn Child" is an oxymoron. Emphasis on moron.

Viable Human Life

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That is the question. A fetus is most definitely human. A fetus is also alive. What it is not, and the reason a woman has the right to terminate its life, is viable. The state abdicates its responsibility to protect life because it cannot survive on its own outside the womb. I

It's unborn, not undead.

And ...

You aren't allowed to commandeer another person's organs to keep yourself alive, even if you are already born.

Forced pregnancy is like forced organ donation.

Countries with very low abortion rates

They aren't the ones that ban it.

They are the ones who provide extensive access, without question, to all reproductive health services for women of all ages, without parental permission or waiting periods.

The Netherlands had an abortion rate that was half of the next lowest country. Switzerland, an exceedingly Catholic country, decided to remove restrictions on abortion and increase access while also replicating the kind of access to contraception that Dutch men and women enjoy. Their abortion rates quickly fell to rival those of the Netherlands.

Both countries support people raising children with health care, child care, and minimum income levels.

Meanwhile, in ElSalvador, women die from complications of pregnancy due to the illegality of abortion and leave orphaned children due to the interference of the church in the legal and medical structures of the country.

El Salvador and other countries that ban abortion still have abortion rates much higher than the Netherlands or Switzerland.

What was that about saving babies, again?


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Remove the myth, fiction and fear of religion and people will have a whole lot less to fight over.

Atheism = sad, empty, shallow

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Atheism = sad, empty, shallow, lives and a frustration and hatred towards Christians that is so all consuming that it becomes an obsession that eats away at you.



It means freedom from irrationality, like that displayed by someone who says he believes in freedom, but then demands that the government force his choices on others.


Not all Christians are

Not all Christians are evangelicals, and the opposite of atheism isn't evangelicalism. Likewise not every Catholic gets in someone's face about abortion nor is every Catholic woman a "self hating victim of institutionalized misogyny" as I heard someone say.

Also using "freedom from irrationality" is pretty smug.

Not really

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I don't usually think of you or any other Christian except when you keep sticking yourself in my face waving your cross to bear in my way.

Pot doesn't meet Kettle

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Evidently what's good for the Court, isn't good for the People, since they passed this regulation last year barring similar activities from their grounds.

No person shall engage in a demonstration within the Supreme Court building and grounds. The term “demonstration” includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers. The term does not include casual use by visitors or tourists that is not reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers.


It's that crazy First Amendment hanging around

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Imagine this, the Supreme Court came down on the side of citizens exercising their rights to speak freely and petition.

Of course, people are going to get all hung up on the abortion piece and miss the larger issue. Can any type of protestors be kept at a distance from anything? Sure, people may first think about the Westboro Baptist Church, but we are 2 years away from the next round of national conventions. Will it be legal to keep the picketers a half mile away from the delegates?

The First Amendment is not

The First Amendment is not boundless and restrictions on where and when some speech can take place are very common and constitutional. Government has to have a very legitimate reason. Now, I agree on the conventions part because the reason to restrict is lame and those are the very places where free speech should flourish. Different story with abortion clinics with a history of violence toward women outside them. You make the protesters stand the length of a Tom Brady first down away. The Court ruled and that's how it goes but they got this one wrong, imo.

Did you ever watch a national

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Did you ever watch a national convention, we had one here and the protesters are kept in free speech pens so as not to disrupt the attendees. Can I stand outside churches and yell how they are all going to hell to burn and show them pictures of rotting corpses on fire, for not having my belief system?


Ask the Westboro Baptist Church

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They have made an industry by doing what you claim you want to do.

The issue I have with people who have an issue with this decision is that one should look beyond the inflamed rhetoric on either side. Heck, I'll even give abortion rights a shoutout and start with Roe v Wade. Have you people actually read it? In essence, the court said that when Texas adopted its abortion statutes, it was for health reasons- women were dying from abortions while abortion was legal. Therefore, now that it was safer, the woman had little danger, making the point of the law moot. Then, the issue left was the viability of the fetus. All was cold and dispassionate, an application of the Constitution.

The issue today is essentially a free speech issue. Are there limits? Yes. However, once again Massachusetts injected passion into the law relating to social issues, and that's not how the Constitution works.

Again, I think that this decision can and will be applied as precedent to non-abortion free speech cases. Heck, someone earlier on in these comments griped about Citizens United. The "corporations are people" precedent in that comes from a nineteenth century case about taxation of the Southern Pacific railroad. Don't be surprised if some jurisdiction gets into trouble for "free speech zones" down the road.

You are dreaming if you think...

... that Court's tolerance for the harrassment of pregnant women wanting an abortion will carry over to tolerance of harrassment of tycoons and financial wizards (and the like).

BTW -- Apparently the Supreme Court has granted _itself_ the luxury of a 98 foot buffer zone.

That is the story of the pot and the kettle

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Just like Congress exempts itself from some laws, the Supremes do the same. Who are you going to complain to?

I think you confused my analogies. I was noting that Citizens United has, as its root, a tax case involving a railroad. I suppose, though, that if one wants to stand outside of an oligarch's office building and warn people not to go in, as helping the oligarch would help widen the wealth gap, you can now. Except you have always been able to do that, since there has been no law expressly telling you not to do so (aside from the various neutral ordinances noted by the Supremos in the majority opinion, of course.)

[or, perhaps, you were being witty in your reply, which would be awesome.]

Not just a railroad case...

... but a railroad case in which the proposition that "corporations are people, too" appears nowhere in the decision itself but only in the "summary" written by an official who not long thereafter became president of a railroad company.

It's still pretty amazing

It's still pretty amazing that that one "addition" by the court reporter in the summary has spawned so much legal theory (much of it not to the public's benefit).

Yes, of course

Can I stand outside churches and yell how they are all going to hell to burn and show them pictures of rotting corpses on fire, for not having my belief system?

Yes, of course, if you are on public property, that is exactly what you can do.

Very disappointing

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This is really, really sad, and part of the problem is that these Justices have never experienced this kind of harassment, particularly since they sit in a courtroom surrounded by a 100 foot buffer zone.

I went to PP for all my health needs when I moved to Boston in 2002. I have never had abortion (although I completely support every woman's right to control her own body), but I did go there for health screenings and birth control. There is nothing more unpleasant than trying to go do something that should be private and routine, and be confronted by people yelling at you, grabbing at you, or waving rosary beads in your face. Things I heard were: "Nice Mother's Day gift, an abortion" (said in May), "You're a murderer," "God forgive this woman, she doesn't know what she is doing," "Go home slut," "How can you kill your baby?" Every. Single. Time. (I must have only gone on Saturdays, if that's when the crowds gather.) It is disturbing, and if I was so bothered and upset just trying to get basic health care, I can't imagine the impact this would have on someone who was actually trying to get an abortion. These people are not nice, are not quiet. They invade your personal space. If they were trying to do this to a judge, they'd be hauled off by security. And they make assumptions about every woman who goes into PP--apparently you go there for abortions only. How many woman have they scared off who just want a mammogram or Pap smear? Imagine the horror of facing that if you were pregnant and were going for pre-natal care!

I truly hope Coakley can find some alternative for this, because there really needs to be a way to protect women from this kind of harassment and violence.


Without wading into the

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Without wading into the substance of the protests (I have no interest in debating abortion at all, never mind in the comment section of a blog), this decision does not mean that protestors cannot be limited in some way. The judicial branch, as it is empowered to do under our system of government, simply said this law went too far and basically asked the legislature, if it is so inclined, to try again because this law violated a fundamental freedom enshrined in the bill of rights. A more circumscribed limitation may pass constitutional muster.

I hardly think this can be seen as a case of a bunch of old white men being clueless about what women go through - it's all nine justices recognizing the importance of free speech, even when the message may sometimes be delivered in a way some, or even many, find repugnant. I hardly think that Justice Ginsburg, whose entire career was founded upon advancing the rights of women would lightly join the majority opinion in this case.

I support the justices doing their job - interpreting the law rather than allowing their politics to sway their decision. Let the legislators change the law, as is their job.


Without wading too deep into

Without wading too deep into the legal weeds here, there's a pretty good chance that Ginsburg and Breyer (who previously supported the Colorado buffer zone) joined the Roberts "majority" to preserve the overall point that some restrictions on protesters outside clinics are constitutional. You have four justices in the concurrence who clearly would knock down almost any restrictions. With Roberts loathe to allow a total free-for-all outside clinics but against zones as a First Amendment absolutist, this may have been the least-bad result. If those four liberals didn't join with Roberts here, he very well may have gone with the four conservatives. This kind of horse trading goes on behind the scenes all the time, Jeffrey Toobin has outlined it very well in his great book on the Court "The Nine."

I hope...

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Protesters discourage men from masterbating bc that sperm coulda found the right egg to make the best person ever who tells really funny jokes.

Even better yet... Let's hope they catch the fallen egg discharged during ovulation. That coulda been my really sweet future great granddaughter who would fight for women's rights and for women's control over their own bodies.

Why is it anyone's business how many abortions a person has had? Or what emotions a person feels or does not feel during the process? If people are worried about saving children become a foster parent. Actively participate in a broken system to create change. Otherwise acknowledge you're just a bully harassing someone who has a different opinion than you. Just like Jesus would want...

Freedom is messy

Freedom is messy.

Freedom gives bad people space to do bad things.

I'm still all for it.

And I'm against 'free speech zones'

And why are Massachusetts hospitals so gutless?

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If Massachusetts hospitals offered abortions at Planned-Parenthood-like prices, harassers would be stumped. On the sidewalks and at the hospital entrances, women seeking abortions would be indistinguishable from other patients and visitors. Once inside, they'd be safe from harassment as they approached the clinical offices.

Hospitals advertise and make plenty of money off pregnant women in their birthing services and neo-natal units. Why don't they provide equal access at clinic-like prices to pregnant women who want abortions?

I don't know if federal law prevents the state from requiring hospitals with birthing centers to provide a full range of pregnancy-related services. But even if that's the case, it would be nice to know which hospitals to avoid for anything elective because of their cowardice on abortion.

Planned Parenthood in Allston

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Is located in Allston after someone murdered people at the two clinics that were located in Brookline. Shot a bunch of people at one and then drove up Beacon to shoot some more. This is why buffer zones exist, or at least did.

I was living in Boston when that happened and was horrified. The women's health clinics were tenants in medical office buildings. The protesters would stop everyone going in and out to harass them whether they were getting their teeth cleaned, getting a massage, or visiting the clinic itself. They didn't care - the technique was to bother everyone so they'd complain to their dentist, chiropractor, whatever who would complain to the landlord who would hopefully evict the clinic.

The building they were in had to post notices as to who had been legally barred from entering the building - they had to get injunctions against people separately. The windows on the garage were covered so people couldn't see inside from the sidewalk - wouldn't want to shoot the wrong medical provider! Cameras every where. Landlords were getting sued by everyone involved and were responsible for security (better after the shootings than before).

I refused to stop going to my chiropractor with this insane atmosphere, especially after the shootings, but there were moments where I had to flee into traffic to get away from these peaceable people whose first amendment rights are so precious.

The shooting was the last straw and the clinics bought their own building in Allston and the buffer zone protects not only the people going in and out (staff and patients) but the pedestrians walking through. Some of the protesters merely pray at you or strangely play a portable keyboard on the hood of their car but they would be the one's impeding a public sidewalk, not the clinic, without the buffer zone as they stop everyone on that sidewalk even if you are walking past to get to the stores or the bus stop. Now they have 35 feet to operate in.

As someone who lives in the neighborhood, I'm very disappointed with this decision for many reasons. Hopefully the Mass legislature will craft a new law based on the ruling that reinstates the buffer zone while addressing the concerns listed. It shouldn't take another murder to protect women's rights.


Why are people who aren't

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legitimate medical professionals given SCOTUS-approved leeway to "counsel" women seeking health services?

Here's my advice

ImmodestyBlaise: Exercise regularly, get a good night's sleep every night, and drink plenty of water.

There. I just gave you medical advice, even though I am not a legitimate medical professional.

Do you think I should be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license?

Do you think I should have been legally prohibited from making those statements?

1860: Don't own slaves?

1860: Don't own slaves? Aren't a slave yourself? Then stay the hell out of the "should slavery be banned" conversation.

(Just for the record, I'm a strong supporter of abortion rights; I'm just pointing out that your line of argument doesn't really hold up.)