Anti-choice protesters in Englewood, New Jersey, can no longer come within an eight-foot radius of a health-care facility’s entrance, exit, or driveway, after the city council voted unanimously Tuesday to enact a buffer zone to protect patients from harassment.
Reproductive rights advocates around the country are calling for additional safety measures, such as buffer zone laws, to protect staff and patients at reproductive health-care clinics.
Susan Cahill, a physician assistant who manages All Families Healthcare, told RH Reality Check that she believes the break-in was part of a coordinated effort to intimidate the facility into no longer providing abortion care.
Friday’s ruling leaves in place a new ordinance that creates buffer zones at entrances to health-care facilities in the city while a legal challenge to its constitutionality moves forward.
Passed by the city council Tuesday, the new ordinance will require a 160-foot buffer zone around any health-care clinic in the city, with a fine of up to $750 for violators.
The state senate rejected a committee recommendation that the bill be killed, and the measure to protect abortion patients now advances to the state house.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of an evangelical couple and their high school children argues the buffer zone unconstitutionally blocks their ability to “counsel” patients entering reproductive health-care clinics.
What relatively peaceful anti-choice protesters may not understand is that their behavior is relative: They’re a physical representation of threats that have already been made, and in some cases executed, in the past and online.
Ald. Lisa Subeck plans to introduce an ordinance that would create a buffer zone of 160 feet around health-care facilities in the city while banning protesters from being within eight feet of a person entering a clinic, punishable by a fine of up to $750.
In Supreme Court arguments over buffer zones and gun restrictions, the Roberts Court cut women victims out of the equation.