U.S. justices agree to hear abortion clinic protester challenge

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:54am EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider a challenge to a Massachusetts law that ensures access for patients at clinics that offer abortions.

Anti-abortion protesters challenged the law, saying it violated their constitutional rights, including their right to freedom of speech, by preventing them from standing on the sidewalk and speaking to those entering clinics.

The case concerns a 2007 law that amended an existing statute that restricted conduct outside abortion clinics by introducing a blanket 35-feet (11-meter) no-entry zone that only allowed patients, staff, passers-by and emergency services to enter.

The protesters say the exemption makes the law unconstitutional under the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment because the government is choosing one set of beliefs over another.

Lawyers for the state of Massachusetts dismissed that claim, saying the law was enacted purely to deal with a potential public safety problem.

Oral arguments and a ruling are expected in the court's next term, which begins in October and ends in June 2014.

The case is McCullen v. Coakley, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-1168.

(Corrects unit of measurement in third paragraph)

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller, Will Dunham and Bill Trott)

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Comments (2)
Bzig wrote:
Why would they assume that the folks entering the clinic WANT to speak with them.

Jun 24, 2013 10:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
sax wrote:
That’s not freedom of speech, that’s stalking. If i refuse to talk to you, you don’t have a right to annoy me

Jun 24, 2013 12:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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