Friday, April 24, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Should the Supreme Court protect entrances to abortion clinics?

By
From page A11 | January 17, 2014 |

The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a challenge to a 2007 Massachusetts law that creates 35-foot buffer zones around the entrances of abortion clinics, a law intended to offset harassment and violence that included a 1994 shooting rampage at two facilities. But critics say the law infringes on the First Amendment right of anti-abortion protesters to make their case to clinic clients.

Should the entrances be buffered? If so, how much space is enough space? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the Red-Blue America columnists, debate the issue.

Joel Mathis

Let us grant Eleanor McCullen this: If the Massachusetts buffer zone has truly infringed on her constitutional right to advocate against abortion, then she is one of the most effective activists alive.

Why? Because, by her own estimates, the plaintiff in this week’s Supreme Court case has persuaded 80 women not to have abortions – and that was after the 2007 law went into effect. Unleashed from the law, there might be no limit to what McCullen could accomplish for the pro-life cause.

But the First Amendment isn’t the only right in question.

Property owners – including the clinic’s owners and landlords – have the right to use and access their property. The clinic’s clients have the right to access women’s health care services that are both legal and constitutional. And they do it in full view of the opposition: McCullen and her allies are just a few dozen feet away, making their viewpoints known.

The current law keeps those opponents 35 feet away from clinic entrances; a prior version of the law had an effective buffer about half that size, about 18 feet. The Massachusetts Legislature revised the law after hearing “how protesters regularly barred access to clinics by physically blocking doors and driveways, and screamed from close range and from immediately next to doorways or driveway entrances at patients trying to enter clinics,” Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley told the court in her brief defending the buffers.

Under that scenario, only the anti-abortion protesters had their rights protected. Thus, the buffer increased to 35 feet.

The Supreme Court may decide that buffers are fine, but order Massachusetts to reduce the size of the zone. That would be wrong: The state has already succeeded in balancing the rights of the parties involved. Women and clinics are able to exercise their rights with minimal fear and intimidation, and abortion opponents still have their say.

The Supreme Court would do well to let the current law stand; Eleanor McCullen doesn’t seem to need the help.

Ben Boychuk

A few years ago, when the “reverend” Fred Phelps and members of his loathsome Westboro Baptist Church asked the Supreme Court to vindicate their First Amendment freedom to protest a private funeral for a dead U.S. serviceman, civil libertarians fell all over themselves to insist that as bad as the Phelps family’s views may be, they had every right to make a solemn occasion into a circus.

The justices agreed by a vote of 8-1.

In Massachusetts, however, civil libertarians are making a different case. The state must “balance” pro-life demonstrators’ First Amendment rights with a woman’s solemn right to choose an abortion.

To that end, creating a 35-foot buffer to protect these women from a disfavored point of view – namely, that there are safer and better alternatives to abortion – is a fitting tradeoff, and certainly does no harm to anyone’s freedom of expression, even if the effect of the law is to silence pro-life demonstrators. Or so the civil libertarian argument goes.

Trouble is, it’s not a very good argument in this case. When freedom of speech collides with the right of privacy, privacy should prevail. But the Westboro Baptist demonstrators’ supposed “freedom of speech” is more akin to a breach of the peace than anything else. It’s certainly not what Eleanor McCullen would describe as the right to “walk and talk gently, lovingly, anywhere with anybody,” as she as done diligently for decades with women who may not realize their options extend beyond snuffing out an innocent life.

The Supreme Court last addressed the “buffer zone” question in 2000. Justice Antonin Scalia noted in a scathing dissent at the time that the court’s tortured jurisprudence, which took the abortion debate largely out of the hands of elected officials, meant that “the most effective place, if not the only place, where . . . persuasion can occur, is outside the entrances to abortion facilities.”

We’ve reached an odd point where protesting a funeral, burning a cross, and dancing nude are all protected forms of speech, but the gentle persuasion of an elderly pro-lifer requires the heavy hand of the state. How is that freedom? These buffer zones silence opinion and need to go.

Ben Boychuk ([email protected]) is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Joel Mathis ([email protected]) is associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine.

Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • The MisterJanuary 17, 2014 - 5:58 am

    Should the Supreme Court protect Christian Churches? Seems as if they are under more assault than any other organization.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MickJanuary 17, 2014 - 8:59 am

    I don't think you know the correct meaning of the word assault.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
House of Floyd gears up for Vacaville show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Spring band festival gets new life in Fairfield

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1, 4 Comments

 
Students showcase artistic talents at annual show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Groups offer ‘The Raising of America’ sneak peek

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B2

Muslim women in post 9/11 world topic of play

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

 
Durst will perform at Children’s Network benefit

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

 
Dixon May Fair offers sneak peek

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
 
Fairfield police log: April 22, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 22, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Few vets getting care through $10 billion VA program

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Google CEO compensation tops $100M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Pentagon eyes possible use of cyberwarfare in the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
San Diego man arrested in terror case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Wife of slain mayor accused of manslaughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Cesar Chavez gets full military honors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Judge denies parole to former Manson Family member

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Evidence building of fracking-caused earthquakes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Petraeus sentenced to 2 years’ probation for military leak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Gay marriage a difficult issue for GOP White House hopefuls

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Loretta Lynch wins confirmation as attorney general

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

American, Italian hostages killed in US drone strike

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
New DNA codes for mammoths: Step toward bringing them back?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Armenians mark 100-year anniversary of massacres

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Thousands evacuated following Chilean eruption

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
European leaders rally to solve migrant ship issue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Living

Community Calendar: April 24, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Friday, April 24, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 24, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My late husband’s brother still has drum set meant for my son

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview April 24-30, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Basses discuss being black opera singers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
American Indian actors quit Adam Sandler movie over names

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment Calendar: April 24, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Facing the second album challenge with Alabama Shakes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
.

Sports

 
Prep track: Indians boys roll to win in four-way meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

Vanden girls soccer rally late for 3-3 tie with American Canyon

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Warriors erase 20-point hole, beat Pelicans 123-119 in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Maxwell hits winning single in 10th, Giants sweep Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Aaron Hernandez moved to new prison after murder conviction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Manfred: Rose will be allowed to be part of All-Star Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

New track announcer taking the mike at Churchill Downs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
WNBA’s Griner, fiancee Glory Johnson arrested after fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Tyrone Wallace to stay at Cal for senior season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

BALCO & Biogenesis may be over, but steroids cloud remains

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Toyota to provide 1st hydrogen-fueled pace car

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

6 Hall of Famers to announce picks at NFL draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
A’s take hard-luck 2-0 loss despite allowing 1 hit to Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Home run king Barry Bonds’ legacy might always be tarnished

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Sleek new plans released for Los Angeles-area NFL stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This date in sports history for April 24

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Boo Weekley, Brendon de Jonge share Zurich Classic lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Champ Lydia Ko takes first-round lead in Swinging Skirts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Michael Crabtree joins Raiders with something to prove

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

 
5 things to know about GM’s revamped Chevy Malibu

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Ford unveils new Taurus influenced by China

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Toyota tops in 1Q global vehicle sales

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Unemployment numbers point to improved job security

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Home sales off to slow start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Nasdaq closes at record high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
China fines Mercedes after price-fixing probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Agriculture officials look to curtail emissions from farming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Vernell Stewart

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Kim Nguyen

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Gladys Speaks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9