BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston will deploy extra police around the city’s abortion clinics starting on Friday to prevent potential unrest after the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down the state’s “buffer law” keeping protesters back 35 feet (11 meters).
“We will have an increased police presence around these facilities tomorrow from 7:30 a.m. to noon, at which point we will assess,” said Kate Norton, spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. “There is always concern when a measure that has been put in place for public safety is removed.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the Massachusetts law that mandates a protective buffer zone around abortion clinics to allow patients unimpeded access.
On a 9-0 vote, the court said the 2007 law violated the free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by preventing them from standing on the sidewalk and speaking to people entering the clinics.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is running for governor, called the decision a “disappointment” and a setback. Massachusetts anti-abortion groups greeted the decision as a victory for free speech.
Abortion provider Planned Parenthood said it would train additional “patient escorts” to help patients enter their facilities if protesters seek to block them.
(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Jim Loney)
[Image: “Police lights,” via Shutterstock]