As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling in McCullen v. Coakley striking down buffer zones around reproductive health clinics in Massachusetts.
As noted in the news story “Voiding of buffer zone at abortion clinics could force Western Pa. change” , this case is not just about Massachusetts but about clinics everywhere, including in Pittsburgh, and the very real violence directed at them.
My patients can attest that the painted yellow arc of Pittsburgh's 15-foot buffer zone has not restricted the free speech of anti-choice protesters. Every day, protesters hurl insults and lies at my patients to intimidate and shame them.
Given the history of violence against abortion providers in this country, my patients are right to feel threatened by this harassment. But once my patients reach the yellow line of the buffer zone, they are ensured safe passage into the clinic. That painted arc is an important and constant physical reminder that no one has the right to physically prevent a woman from accessing safe and legal medical care.
No person, man or woman, should have to fear for his or her safety for simply walking into a medical clinic.
The Supreme Court got this one wrong; buffer zones provide critical protections for patients.
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