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June 26, 2014

STATEMENT: NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts on Supreme Court Decision to Strike Down Buffer Zones in McCullen v. Coakley

Today, the Supreme Court ruled to strike down the Massachusetts law securing providers and patients with a 35-foot buffer zone around reproductive-health clinics in a unanimous opinion.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President, Ilyse Hogue had this to say:

"We're deeply disappointed in the decision of the Supreme Court today to overturn Massachusetts' buffer zone law. The law was supported by public safety officials whose goal is to protect women, doctors, and clinic workers from the relentless harassment and intimidation that they face daily. This movement has a long history of violence and has committed eight murders and 17 attempted murders since 1991.

"While the Supreme Court acknowledged that these laws play an important role in protecting women and doctors, the Justices made it more difficult for states to protect their citizens. Let's be clear: today's decision puts women and health care providers at greater risk. We will work to make sure that legislatures in states are focused on making clinics safe for women free of harassment, intimidation, and violent acts."

Said NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Megan Amundson:

"The buffer zone did exactly what it was intended to do: it prevented violence at clinics while allowing anti-choice protestors to express their views. Without it, the only tool we have left to combat clinic violence is to prosecute people after they have already committed violent acts. We know that prosecuting zealots does not deter them. But violence at clinics does deter women from accessing essential medical care. This decision turns back the clock to the days when women were too intimidated by protestors to seek medical care. Women's health will suffer because of it.

"Every person in our state, and across the nation, deserves the right to access health care services free from violence, harassment, and intimidation."

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