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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JEFF JACOBY

Court hears buffer-zone argument

For anyone having trouble understanding why the Massachusetts law requiring a 35-foot “buffer zone” at abortion clinics is so offensive to the First Amendment, there was a moment during oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley — the Supreme Court case challenging the law — that crystallized the issue perfectly.

Massachusetts officials have always justified the 2007 buffer law as a narrow, impartial response to the problem of obstruction, disorder, and intimidation of women seeking abortions. That concern is understandably taken seriously in the state where John Salvi murdered two employees of Planned Parenthood clinics in 1994.

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