The US 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Massachusetts law on Friday, allowing a 35-foot safety buffer zone between protestors and abortion clinic entrances. The law, established in 2007, protects clinic patients and staff from harassment.
Five anti-choice protesters originally filed the lawsuit on the grounds that the safety zones violate their right to free speech. In 2008, US District Judge Joseph Tauro rejected their request and they filed the most recent appeal.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that the law does not infringe on protestors' free speech rights and applies to all protestors no matter their viewpoint. The law is described as "content-neutral," reported the Boston Globe. The ruling also stated that the law "represents a permissible response by the Massachusetts Legislature to what it reasonably perceived as a significant threat to public safety."
"For too long, patients and staff had to endure in-your-face screaming and harassment just to get to doctor's appointments," Angus McQuilken, vice president of public affairs for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe in 2008 after the original suit was filed. "This 35-foot zone is more than reasonable."
Media Resources: Boston Globe 2/21/08, 7/10/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/26/08
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .