Justices give abortion clinic 'bubble zones' a thumbs up

Tuesday, July 7, 2020
 | 
Charlie Butts, Sarah Duley (OneNewsNow.com)

Church at Planned ParenthoodIn light of a decision last week by the U.S. Supreme Court, it's likely more cities will move to restrict free-speech rights at abortion clinics. That's according to an attorney with a pro-family/pro-life legal group.

Over the years, a number of cities have passed laws that provide for "buffer zones" or "bubble zones" at abortion clinics that prohibit pro-life counselors from getting close to women who are arriving to have their child terminated. Two cases from Pennsylvania and Illinois in which federal courts upheld the buffer zones made it to the Supreme Court. Last week, the high court decided not to hear the appeals, leaving the zones in place.

The first case involves a Chicago, Illinois, ordinance which made it illegal for a person who aims to distribute a leaflet, display a sign, or engage in sidewalk counseling to approach within eight feet of someone who is moving toward an abortion business once that person is within 50 feet of the business entrance.

Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit against the ordinance in 2016, claiming the law violates the constitutional rights of pro-lifers based on the First and Fourteenth Amendments. OneNewsNow spoke with TMS senior counsel Tom Olp, who noted that unions and others are not restricted in that way – but pro-lifers are.

Olp

"We have something I call the abortion distortion. The political controversy around abortion is such that a lot of the justices in the courts essentially kowtow to abortion and allow laws to be enforced which give a special dispensation for abortion," Olp explained.

The second, similar case that SCOTUS refused to hear on Thursday involves an ordinance in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which outlawed congregating, picketing, or demonstrating within a 20-foot zone from all entrances, exits, or driveways "of a health care facility." The federal district court and the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both said the law would stand.

Olp is concerned that since SCOTUS refused to hear the appeals, more cities will establish buffer zones. "It's happening in Charleston, West Virginia, and other places," he lamented. "… There'll be more ordinances being established to protect abortion clinics."

One more buffer zone case has been appealed, and the nation's high court will decide in the fall session whether to accept it.

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