MA Supreme Court Rules Buffer Zones Constitutional
The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics would not be a violation of First Amendment free speech rights.
The state Senate is considering a bill that would bar individuals from a 25-foot zone around building entrances and driveways unless they had business in the building or were public officials. The Senate submitted the question to the Supreme Judicial Court for legal advice back in November. The SJC concluded that "the interests stated in this bill are substantial government interests."
The United States Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in Hill v. Colorado on whether the 1993 Colorado law that establishes a protective 8-foot bubble around persons entering abortion clinics to protect patients and clinic workers from harassment or violates demonstrators' right to free speech. The Colorado law prohibits demonstrators within a 100 ft. of a health-care facility entrance from getting closer than 8 feet to individuals without their consent. Anyone who violates the law faces up to six months in jail and $750 fine.
Media Resources: Associated Press and Feminist Majority Foundation - January 26, 2000
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. . . .