From the Boston Bar Journal - The Buffer Zone: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

By Jonathan B. Miller

Case Focus

This past June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts’ buffer zone law in the case of McCullen v. Coakley, 134 S. Ct. 2518 (2014).  The law at issue created a 35-foot perimeter outside of the entrances and driveways to reproductive healthcare facilities, and was Massachusetts’ third attempt at crafting an effective and constitutionally permissible regulatory regime for the space around those facilities.  The McCullen decision prompted a fourth effort to create an enforcement scheme that strikes the right balance between ensuring reproductive freedom and guaranteeing First Amendment rights.  On July 30, 2014, Governor Patrick signed into law the Safe Access Law which creates new protections for patients and clinic staff.  This article offers a brief review of each chapter in the ongoing dialogue between law enforcement and the Legislature on the one side, and the U.S. Supreme Court on the other.

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