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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JEFF JACOBY

Buffering out the right to hear

Evidence that misery doesn’t love company is common at pro-life gatherings, where women holding poignant signs — “I Regret My Abortion” — urge others not to make a mistake that haunts them.

As the US Supreme Court hears a constitutional challenge to the Massachusetts abortion-clinic “buffer zone” law, the justices are being reminded that the First Amendment protects more than just a speaker’s right to express ideas. It also protects a listener’s freedom to hear those ideas. Stifling that freedom near abortion clinics can mean — as 12 women argue, from personal experience, in a compelling friend-of-the-court brief prepared by Carrie Severino of the Judicial Education Project — that individuals in a crisis pregnancy are denied essential information at the moment they may need it most.

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