Supreme Court Decision on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones is a Call to Action

Yesterday the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that created a buffer zone around abortion clinics, ensuring that women could get the reproductive health care they need without intimidation and invasions of their privacy. Because National Advocates for Pregnant Women works to ensure that people who become pregnant are not prevented from obtaining the health services they need, we joined this lawsuit as amicus defending the buffer zone and the civil rights of women who seek to address their reproductive health needs. We hoped for a better outcome in this case, but we see it as a moment to catalyze our movement for reproductive justice.

While the Supreme Court's decision recognizes that protecting access to reproductive health clinics is a legitimate state concern and that action can be taken to stop abortion opponents from obstructing people from getting in and out of clinics, it is troubling that the Court ignored the long history of intimidation and violence that abortion opponents have used to try to prevent women from accessing abortion services as well as contraceptive and prenatal care. Without this context, the Court's opinion suggests that laws protecting clinic access are merely there to keep the sidewalks clear, and that the speech in question is merely the exchange of opposing views - rather than an imposition on women's civil and human rights to get the health care they need.

It is also troubling that the real lives of women are missing from the Court's analysis. Through murder of abortion providers, violence against women and providers at clinics, and the relentless onslaught of legislation forcing abortion clinics to shutter their doors, women are finding that they cannot access abortion services. Some are facing arrest and prosecution because they had to find ways to obtain the abortions they needed outside of traditional clinic settings. NAPW recognizes that women's equality and their personhood depends on being able to access health care - and this necessarily includes reproductive and maternity care.

While we fear this decision will further embolden opponents who seek to shame, intimidate and obstruct women who seek reproductive and maternal health care services, we hope this decision is also a call to new, vital, and creative action on our side. Stigmatizing, defamatory speech and protest can be met with honest, accurate, supportive speech and inspiring movement building protest. A recent high school counter-protest in Norman, Oklahoma, spurred by the success of the Take Root Reproductive Justice Conference, highlights the kind of on-the-ground action that we can do to advance reproductive justice and insist upon our humanity.

Follow us at our website, on Facebook, and Twitter for upcoming actions, such as protesting forced medical interventions on pregnant women and countering the deceptive tactics of crisis pregnancy centers. Join us in vocally and visibly supporting reproductive justice - the ability of all people, including pregnant women, to access health care, raise their families in a loving, supportive, environment, and to determine the course of their lives.