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Court's buffer zone ruling doesn't impact Oregon

By Wanda Moore
Published On: Jun 27 2014 11:18:48 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 27 2014 11:19:10 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Wanda Moore spoke with people from both side of the abortion debate to see what impact the ruling has on Oregon.

BEND, Ore. -

A line on the ground, meant to keep protesters away from women who go into clinics to seek abortions, part of an issue that continues to divide the nation. The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that buffer zones around abortion clinics are unconstitutional, a big decision for people on both sides of the debate.

"This buffer zone was there because of a decade-long threat to public safety for women who were trying to access clinic services," Michele Stranger Hunter, executive director at NARAL, Pro-Choice Oregon, said Friday.

"The Supreme Court's ruling was a victory for free speech, and what it did is acknowledge  that women have the right to an alternative to abortion," said Liberty Pike, director of communications at Oregon Right to Life. "They have the right to knowledge."

Oregon is not directly affected by the ruling. Only three states -- Colorado, Massachusetts and Montana -- have buffer zone laws.

However, protesters are not allowed under federal law to obstruct women from entering the clinic. It is also illegal to intimidate women or use physical force.

Pro-choice supporters say that is not enough.

"In Portland, we have people at every clinic every day, yelling at women. And it's really very abusive," said Stranger Hunter.

Abortion foes, on the other hand, say they are not being aggressive, but rather want to talk to women about alternatives.

"You simply cannot have a conversation with these women if they're 35 feet away from you," Pike said.

Stacy Cross, CEO at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, issued a statement on the ruling, which said: "Women should be able to make carefully considered, private medical decisions without judgment from strangers (...)".

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has a buffer zone of its own. It allows protests on the sidewalk in front of the court building, but bans it on the large marble plaza in front.

Planned Parenthood said that means the same court that denied them a buffer zone has one of its own.

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