S.F. City Attorney’s response to U.S. high court ruling on abortion clinic protest ‘buffer zones’

‘Disappointing’ unanimous decision invalidated a balanced Massachusetts law ‘that helped protect public safety and ensure women’s access to reproductive health care’

SAN FRANCISCO (June 26, 2014) — The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a Commonwealth of Massachusetts law barring protests within a 35-foot buffer zone around entrances to abortion clinics. While the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office is still evaluating whether or to what extent San Francisco’s own local buffer zone ordinance may be impacted by today’s unanimous high court decision, Deputy City Attorney Erin Bernstein (who co-authored the San Francisco’s amicus brief in the case along with 17 other local governments) offered the following statement:

“At first glance, today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCullen v. Coakley is disappointing,” Deputy San Francisco City Attorney Erin Bernstein said. “The Court appears to have taken away from Massachusetts a balanced and effective law that helped protect public safety and ensure women’s access to reproductive health care. The City Attorney’s Office is closely examining the ruling and evaluating its effect, if any, on San Francisco’s local buffer zone ordinance. For more than a decade, City Attorney Dennis Herrera has worked to make sure that San Franciscans can access constitutionally protected reproductive health care. Our office has worked to overturn federal laws that put barriers between women and the safest medical options available, and we are currently defending the Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance, which prohibits centers from deceptively advertising to vulnerable women seeking abortion care. Regardless of today’s ruling, City Attorney Herrera will continue protecting women’s safe and timely access to care.”

The case is: McCullen v. Coakley, Supreme Court of the United States Case No. 12-1168, decided June 26, 2014. Additional information is available on the San Francisco City Attorney’s website at: https://www.sfcityattorney.org/.


PDF icon PDF of the S.F. City Attorney’s presskit on McCullen v. Coakley ruling (June 26, 2014)