The pro-life movement scored a huge victory at the Supreme Court today, as the nine justices ruled unanimously in McCullen v. Coakley that Massachusetts’ abortion clinic buffer zone violates the First Amendment.
The court held that this 35-foot buffer zone violates the First Amendment by imposing “serious burdens” on sidewalk counselors’ freedom of speech on public sidewalks.
Reading the opinion [PDF] in the case, it was very encouraging to see the justices make a clear distinction between sidewalk counseling and protesting:
While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives. It is thus no answer to say that petitioners can still be seen and heard by women within the buffer zones. If all that the women can see and hear are vociferous opponents of abortion, then the buffer zones have effectively stifled petitioners’ message.
To be sure, the Pro-Life Action League has always been a proponent of both sidewalk counseling and pro-life protesting, but considering how often these two activities are conflated, it’s good to see the Supreme Court acknowledge a clear difference between them.
What Does the Future Hold?
Today’s ruling in McCullen now opens the door to challenge other buffer and bubble zones across the country and protects our right to speak to our fellow citizens about the great evil of abortion in the public square.
There is perhaps no better way to celebrate today’s Supreme Court victory by going out to your local abortion clinic to pray or sidewalk counsel. If you can, take an hour today at the abortion clinic to thank God for this great ruling and be a witness for life to women seeking abortion in your community.
And if you’ve never sidewalk counseled before and need some guidance before you get started, check out our No Greater Joy video, and get in touch with us.