KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court To Examine Abortion Clinics’ ‘Protest-Free’ Zones

The court will hear arguments this week over whether the 35-foot buffer zone around the entrance of Massachusetts abortion clinics is an infringement on free speech.

The New York Times: Where Free Speech Collides With Abortion Rights
A couple of mornings a week, Eleanor McCullen stakes out a spot outside the Planned Parenthood clinic here and tries to persuade women on their way in to think twice before having an abortion. But she has to watch her step. If she crosses a painted yellow semicircle outside the clinic’s entrance, she commits a crime under a 2007 Massachusetts law (Liptak, 1/12).

Politico: Supreme Court To Consider Abortion Clinic Protests
The Supreme Court is wading back into the nation’s long battle over abortion, this time to examine limits on protesters’ speech outside clinics. Abortion opponents who regularly gather outside Massachusetts clinics want the court to strike a 2007 state law that established a 35-foot “buffer” zone around entrances to the facilities. They argue it puts unconstitutional limitations on speech because they are prohibited from crossing the line while certain people associated with the clinic can go through (Haberkorn, 1/12).

The Associated Press: High Court To Hear Case On Abortion Clinic Protest-Free Zone
Eleanor McCullen clutches a baby's hat knit in pink and blue as she patrols a yellow semicircle painted on the sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood health clinic on a frigid December morning with snow in the forecast. The painted line marks 35 feet from the clinic's entrance and that's where the 77-year-old McCullen and all other abortion protesters and supporters must stay under a Massachusetts law that is being challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. Arguments are set for Wednesday. Outside the line, McCullen and others are free to approach anyone with any message they wish. They risk arrest if they get closer to the door (1/12).

In other high court news -

The Hill: High Court To Hear Susan B. Anthony List Case
The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear a free speech case involving a prominent abortion-rights group and its effort to discredit a candidate over ObamaCare four years ago. The Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, which works to elect politicians who oppose abortion rights, argues that an Ohio statute penalizing false political speech prevented it from launching certain ads against then-Rep. Steven Driehaus (D-Ohio) in 2010.  In a statement, the group cheered the court's move to hear its case and said that the Ohio law chills legitimate political debate (Viebeck, 1/11).

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