Loading
Supreme Court hears abortion zone case, declines 20-week ban
By Adelaide Mena
Protestors in front of the US Supreme Court. Credit: Michelle Bauman/CNA.
Protestors in front of the US Supreme Court. Credit: Michelle Bauman/CNA.

.- The Supreme Court will rule this year on a case involving “buffer zones” outside abortion clinics, but it has declined to hear a case on state abortion bans after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

On Jan. 15, the court heard oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley, a case challenging a Massachusetts state law requiring a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, in which protestors and pro-life counselors may not enter to speak with patients.

Supporters of the law say it is a matter of safety and unobstructed access to clinics, while opponents argue that it infringes upon freedom of speech and unfairly targets those who hold pro-life viewpoints.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the case in June.

The state's brief on the case argues that the law is “justified solely by legitimate government interests in public safety and health care access.”

However, pro-life challengers to the law say that it infringes upon their constitutionally-protected First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. They have argued in a legal brief that the law “indiscriminately criminalizes even peaceful, consensual, non-obstructive conversation and leafleting” and that it unfairly targets certain kinds of speech, namely, pro-life counseling and views.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the buffer law in January 2013, ruling that the First Amendment does not guarantee an audience “available at close range,” and arguing that pro-life counselors still have access to women seeking abortions, even with the 35-foot buffer zone in place.

Pro-life organizers from around the country have questioned the ruling.

“Though the Massachusetts law in question certainly has to do with abortion, and the risk to thousands of innocent human lives is severe, this is a First Amendment issue first and foremost,” said Lila Rose, president of the pro-life investigative organization Live Action, in a Jan. 14 statement.

“The Constitution of the United States does not become void as one gets close to an abortion facility. The Court has a crucial opportunity today to defend our nation's foundational commitment to freedom of speech.”

Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, called for the “Supreme Court to put an end to these perverse attempts to silence pro-life speakers.”

“Massachusetts is grasping at straws and its 'bubble zone' law flies in the face of the very notion of Freedom of Speech,” she said.

The oral arguments in the Massachusetts case were heard two days after the Supreme Court announced that it would not be hearing an appeal from the state of Arizona which seeks to re-instate its law barring most late-term abortions.

Enacted in April 2012, the Arizona law prohibited most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, measured by the date of the woman's last menstrual period. About a dozen other states have similar restrictions, although they generally measure from fertilization – about two weeks later than the Arizona law. Several other states ban abortion at 24 weeks, the point of fetal viability.

Advocates of the Arizona law point to evidence that unborn babies can feel pain at 20 weeks of development and argue that late-term abortions pose a greater risk to the mother.

In May 2013, a panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional, saying that Arizona's limits on late-term abortion violated previous Supreme Court rulings that expanded access to abortion, including the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” case.

Appeals court judges also dismissed arguments based on the unborn baby's ability to feel pain, saying that the state of Arizona can instead handle this problem by “requiring anesthetization of the fetuses about to be killed.”

The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, offering no comments on its decision. This allows the ruling from the appeals court to stand, overturning the regulation. Other state laws will not be affected.

 

Tags: Abortion, Supreme Court


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Jul
28

Liturgical Calendar

July 28, 2014

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:31-35

Gospel
Date
07/28/14
07/27/14
07/26/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 13: 1-11
Gospel:: Mt 13: 31-35

Saint of the Day

St. Victor I, Pope »

Saint
Date
07/27/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:31-35

Homily
Date
07/28/14
07/27/14
07/26/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: