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Buffer Zone Ruling and California: What's the impact here?

Protest

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released a ruling on June 26, unanimously striking down Massachusetts’ 35-foot abortion buffer zone law. Read this Think Progress article about the basics of the ruling. What does this ruling, which rolls back a policy that helped safeguard women’s access to reproductive health care, mean for women in the US? What does this mean for California?

What the ruling means for California

Planned Parenthood’s top priority continues to be ensuring patient safety and access.

In California, seven cities (Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Barbara) have established buffer zones to protect women from harassment when they are seeking reproductive health care.

Based on initial analysis of the SCOTUS ruling, the June 26 opinion MCCullen v Coakley is limited in scope and continues to allow a variety of laws protecting patient access and safety. It appears that many of the CA laws will remain in effect and continue to work to protect patient access and safety, though further legal analysis is underway.

The SCOTUS ruling on the buffer zone strikes down the 35-foot buffer zone, but it leaves many important routes open for Planned Parenthood health centers and other reproductive health providers to continue to seek solutions in cities where problems of intimidation or safety concerns crop up. These routes include options such as injunctions and continuing to enforce the types of floating buffer/bubble type ordinances that do remain in effect, so that patient safety can be protected.

Note: If reading legal documents interests you, here’s a link to the full PDF of the SCOTUS ruling.

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