“Buffer zone” law for abortion clinics declared unconstitutional

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7273.1368/e (Published 2 December 2000)
Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1368.6

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  1. Scott Gottlieb
  1. New York

    A US federal judge last week struck down a new state law that had created a buffer zone around abortion clinics to keep protesters away from patients, accusing Massachusetts's lawmakers of trampling on abortion opponents' right to free speech.

    US district judge Edward Harrington ruled that the law was not constitutional because it allowed employees and agents of the clinics, such as volunteers, to approach patients outside the clinics but prohibited protesters from coming within six feet (2 metres) of patients who were within 18 feet of a clinic entrance.

    “Pro-life advocates,” Judge Harrington said, “must be given as equal an opportunity as their opponents …

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