Reinstate Buffer Zones Around Abortion Clinics


Target: John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Goal: Reinstate buffer zones around abortion clinics to help protect patients from harassment

In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law in Delaware requiring abortion opponents and protestors to remain at least 35 feet from the entrance of abortion clinics. The ban was instituted in 2007 to protect patients from harassment, but antiabortionist protesters pushed to get the ban overruled, claiming that it violates the First Amendment. Urge the federal government to reinstate the abortion clinic buffer zone ban to save women seeking abortions from being harassed by aggressive protestors.

Thirty-five feet away from clinics is typically public property—sidewalks, etc.—and abortion opponents say the ban impedes their ability to “counsel” women seeking abortions about their decision within a constitutional free-speech zone. Although buffers like these are common practice around circuses, churches, funeral services and political conventions, however, the Supreme Court does not seem to believe those bans are in violation of the First Amendment.

The overturning of the buffer zone ban is meant, ostensibly, to allow close counseling and the rational presentation of the choices available to women seeking treatment moments before they make what could be the biggest decision of their lives. However, this type of composed opposition was not the reason the ban was originally implemented.

Across the country, these buffers came after the deaths of two abortion clinic workers in 1994 and aggressive protestation that threatens the privacy and safety of patients. Removing the buffer zone allows for close, uncomfortable interactions between antiabortionists and patients, making women facing an already difficult choice feel even more vulnerable.

By signing this petition, you will be urging government officials to reinstate the buffer zone surrounding abortion clinics and help protect the privacy and safety of women seeking abortions in the state of Delaware.


Dear Chief Justice John Roberts,

The abortion clinic buffer implemented in Delaware in 2007 was meant to protect patients and workers in clinics. Removing this buffer is not a win for the First Amendment, but a violation of the privacy of women seeking abortions.

The ban was lifted after abortion opponents insisted it made face-to-face counseling with abortion seekers too difficult. However, it stands to reason that anyone seeking counsel would not consider 35 feet too far to walk to receive it. And while the 35-foot ban does often include an amount of public property, there was no mention by the Supreme Court of lifting the “free speech pens” for areas around political conventions, circuses or churches, which also include public spaces.

I urge you to reinstate the buffer zones surrounding Delaware abortion clinics and help protect patients and workers from harassment and violation of privacy.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Rattleman via Wikimedia Commons

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102 Signatures

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