Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled “buffer zones” around abortion clinics are unconstitutional. The unanimous decision prohibits states and localities from banning crisis pregnancy counselors from offering help to hurting women entering an abortion clinic.
McCullen v. Coakley brought together pro-life and pro-abortion justices. Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. wrote, “Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks—sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history. Respondents assert undeniably significant interests in maintaining public safety on those same streets and sidewalks, as well as in preserving access to adjacent healthcare facilities. But here the Commonwealth has pursued those interests by the extreme step of closing a substantial portion of a traditional public forum to all speakers. It has done so without seriously addressing the problem through alternatives that leave the forum open for its time-honored purposes.”
In Liberty Counsel’s amicus brief, Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman, told the High Court, “The continual secularization and anti-life agenda of our government is responsible for this double standard at abortion facilities. Determined to continue the assault on women and the preborn, the state of Massachusetts will not even allow a woman in a crisis pregnancy to receive sidewalk counseling at a time in her life when such counseling is vital to her future and that of her unborn baby.”
Liberty Counsel is fighting a similar case involving viewpoint discrimination. In Pine v. West Palm Beach the city has banned all “shouting” and amplified sound within 100 feet of “health care facilities” in West Palm Beach, Florida, regardless of the volume used or if the sound causes any disturbance. Today’s decision makes it clear that government may not impose substantial burdens on speech on a public sidewalk that are not narrowly tailored to legitimate government interests.
This is a great day for liberty and life. Crisis pregnancy counselors are heroes. Dedicated to defending the preborn and helping women, they spend their lives standing on sidewalks offering help to women who are alone and afraid. This decision affirms the life-saving work of those counselors, and the women and children they support.
Liberty Counsel® is an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. With offices in California, Florida, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and an outreach in Israel, Liberty Counsel has hundreds of advocates around the world.