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Reactions to Supreme Court decision on abortion clinic buffer zones

The US Supreme Court decision today striking down the Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone law sparked a wide range of reactions today from groups on both sides of the abortion issue, as well as political leaders.

— “It restores your faith in the country. The court recognized our First Amendment rights, and now I’ll have a chance to speak to people one-on-one.” — Eleanor McCullen, 77, of Newton, the lead plaintiff in the case.

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— “We are not going to give up our fight to make sure women have safe access to reproductive health care. We will utilize all of the tools we have available to protect everyone from harassment, threats, and physical obstruction.” — Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office defended the law.

— “These buffer zones have not only denied pro-life activists their right to speak, but have also denied women the right to hear information about abortion that could be wanted and helpful to them in making a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. We know that lives will be saved as a result of this decision.” — Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, a Christian activist group.

RELATED: Mass. abortion clinic buffer zone law struck down

— “Today’s ruling isn’t the end of the story — it can’t be. Our top priority is to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, and we will work with local law enforcement and elected officials to protect public safety.” — Martha Walz, president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

“This discriminatory law barred these citizens from gathering on nearby public sidewalks, while exempting ‘clinic escorts’ trained to expedite women into the facility. Clearly this was an attack on pro-life Americans’ freedom of speech, and we welcome the Court’s decision to overturn the law.” -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

— “While this is certainly a victory for free speech, it is more a victory for women and their preborn babies. Sidewalk counselors do incredible work in reaching out to women who are facing an unexpected pregnancy and are seeking support in what to do next. ... This law was an unnecessary infringement on the rights of people to counsel vulnerable women.” — The Right Rev. William Murdoch, bishop of the Anglican Diocese in New England.

— “This decision shows a troubling level of disregard for American women, who should be able to make carefully considered, private medical decisions without running a gantlet of harassing and threatening protesters.” — Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

— “A woman seeking reproductive health care should not be harassed, judged, or shamed. The buffer zone allows protection from this harassment while also still allowing protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights. As mayor, I will do everything in my power to ensure the safety of the women seeking care and the staff that work at these facilities.” — Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

More coverage:

Mass. abortion clinic buffer zone law struck down

Justices question Mass. abortion clinic buffer zones

Jeff Jacoby: Buffering out the right to hear

Renée Loth: A zone that should be left alone

Yvonne Abraham: Still speaking up for his sister

Audio: Supreme Court arguments on abortion buffer zone

Read the decision (PDF)

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