The U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed abortion opponents by leaving intact a precedent that lets states and cities prevent people from approaching women without consent as they are entering a clinic.
The justices turned away two appeals that called for reconsidering the 2000 decision, which upheld Colorado’s 8-foot bubble zone around people when they are near the entrance to a clinic. The dual rejections let stand clinic-access laws in Chicago and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The justices on Thursday also told lower courts to reconsider two rulings that blocked abortion restrictions in Indiana, including a requirement that women wait 18 hours after they have had an ultrasound. In ordering a fresh look, the Supreme Court pointed to its ruling this week invalidating Louisiana’s requirement that abortion-clinic doctors have privileges at a local hospital.
Conservative groups said the Chicago and Harrisburg clinic-access laws target anti-abortion advocacy and violate free-speech rights. The Chicago ordinance puts an 8-foot bubble zone around people within 50 feet of a clinic entrance. The measure restricts only specified types of speech, including protesting and counseling.
The Harrisburg ordinance creates a fixed 20-foot buffer zone around the entrance to a health-care facility.
The Supreme Court last considered the competing rights outside abortion clinics in 2014, when the justices struck down a Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot buffer zone around clinic entrances.
That ruling was unanimous, but the court splintered in its reasoning, with Chief Justice
The Chicago case is Price v. Chicago, 18-1516. The Harrisburg case is Reilly v. Harrisburg, 19-983. The Indiana ultrasound case is Box v. Planned Parenthood, 18-1019.
(Updates to describe challenged laws starting in third paragraph)
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