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Supreme Court unanimously strikes down Massachusetts abortion buffer zone law

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By Ben Johnson

Updated at 12:15 p.m. EST.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court has unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a buffer zone around abortion facilities.

The justices' 9-0 ruling in McCullen v. Coakley reverses the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the law, which barred sidewalk counselors from setting foot within 35 feet of abortion facilities statewide.

The 34-page ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the statute went too far by forbidding pro-life advocates from engaging in free speech on “a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health care facility.”

The buffer zone law represents an “extreme step of closing a substantial portion of a traditional public forum to all speakers,” the justices ruled. “The Commonwealth may not do that consistent with the First Amendment.”

“While we wish the decision had recognized the content-restrictions inherent in this type of law, this decision is truly a victory for courageous, compassionate sidewalk counselors in Massachusetts who have saved hundreds of lives through their quiet outreach offering help and alternatives to women,” Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, told LifeSiteNews.com. 

“In a brazen affront to the First Amendment, Massachusetts government officials had sought to use the threat of arrest and criminal conviction to silence those offering women life-affirming alternatives to abortion,” said Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life. “The Supreme Court rightly rejected this unlawful attempt to deny pro-life Americans their First Amendment rights.”

However in a flashpoint with three conservative justices, a majority of the justices endorsed the right of states to create buffer zones around abortion facilities as long as they are more narrowly tailored, especially if the state establishes a legal history of intimidation.

“The act is neither content nor viewpoint based and therefore need not be analyzed under strict scrutiny,” they ruled, provoking a stern response from Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas.

Pro-life forces had said the law censored their speech by allowing abortion escorts to speak freely to women but silencing anyone who would try to tell the woman of abortion's potential harms.

“The government cannot reserve its public sidewalks for Planned Parenthood, as if their message is the only one women should be allowed to hear,” said Mark Rienzi, the sidewalk counselors' attorney. “Today’s decision confirms that the First Amendment is for everyone, and that the government cannot silence peaceful speakers. That result is good news for Eleanor McCullen, and it is great news for the women she helps.”

Justice Roberts rejected the notion that buffer zone laws target only one side of the argument, saying they “burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests” in protecting women seeking an abortion from allegedly aggressive pro-life protesters.

The bill was introduced in 2007 by Massachusetts House of Representatives. Member Martha “Marty” Walz, who is now the president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. She claimed in a USA Today op-ed that the law is necessary to protect abortion workers from “violent, extremist anti-abortion protesters led by Operation Rescue.”

Eleanor McCullen – a 77-year-old grandmother who says she has spent more than $50,000 of her own funds trying to reach young women and protect unborn children – filed suit in January 2008 against state Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is currently running for governor of Massachusetts as a Democrat.

Obama administration Deputy Solicitor General Ian H. Gershengorn argued on behalf of the U.S. government in support of the restrictive law. But oral arguments showed every justice, including Elena Kagan, expressing skepticism about the breadth of the Massachusetts ordinance.

Justice Kennedy asked at one point, “Do you want me to write an opinion and say there’s no free speech right to quietly converse on an issue of public importance?”

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The Supreme Court previously upheld a Colorado law establishing an eight-foot floating buffer zone outside abortion facilities in 2000 by a 6-3 vote. Scalia, Kennedy and Justice Clarence Thomas dissented in the 2000 case, Hill v. Colorado, while Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer voted in favor.

Colorado, Montana, and New Hampshire have state laws mandating buffer zones about abortion offices. So do the cities of Burlington, Vermont; West Palm Beach, Florida; Portland, Maine; Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California.

“I'm thankful for the Supreme Court doing the right thing, recognizing freedom of speech and freedom of dissent,” Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said today. “Those of us who are pro-life have constitutional guarantees embedded in the First Amendment, along with everyone else. This was a good decision, and I am cheered that it was a unanimous decision.”

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m proud to stand with Planned Parenthood’

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Seven days after calling videos of Planned Parenthood officials harvesting fetal parts "disturbing," leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is throwing her support behind the embattled abortion giant.

In an ad released on Monday, just hours before the U.S. Senate failed to defund Planned Parenthood, Clinton called such legislative efforts "a full-on assault on women's health."

She also described Planned Parenthood as "the nation's leader in providing reproductive health care."

“Unfortunately, these attacks aren’t new," Clinton said. "They’re more of the same. We have seen them in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker defunded Planned Parenthood and left women across the state stranded with nowhere else to turn. We have seen them in Florida, where Jeb Bush funneled millions of dollars into abstinence-only programs while gutting funds for crucial family planning programs. And we have seen them in Texas, where Governor [Rick] Perry drastically cut funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings."

"And then [Perry] signed legislation that forced health centers across the state to close their doors in an attempt to wipe out access to safe and legal abortion all together,” Clinton said.

Walker boasted of defunding Planned Parenthood at a Republican presidential candidate in New Hampshire last night.

As governor of Florida, Bush put millions of dollars towards pro-life pregnancy care clinics, which are pro-life alternatives to abortion clinics.

The measures Perry signed in 2013 banned most abortions after 20 weeks' gestation, forced abortion centers to upgrade to the same level as ambulatory surgical centers, and required abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

However, according to Clinton, defunding America's largest abortion company is "cutting people off from the health care provider they know and trust."

“When they attack women’s health, they attack America’s health," Clinton said. "And it’s wrong. And we are not going to let them get away with it."

"We are not going back. We are going to fight back," she vowed.

She concluded, "I’m proud to stand with Planned Parenthood."

Her video came between the releases of undercover video footage revealing Planned Parenthood's work in harvesting the organs of aborted babies and turning them over to research firms for a fee.

Clinton has long supported abortion-on-demand, saying earlier this year that religious beliefs opposed to abortion "must be changed."

Last year, she said it was "a bedrock truth" that "you cannot make progress on gender equality or broader human development, without safeguarding women’s reproductive health and rights."

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Bobby Jindal cancels Planned Parenthood funding in wake of body parts scandal

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By Dustin Siggins

BATON ROUGE, LA, August 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The state of Louisiana has canceled its contract with the state's two Planned Parenthood centers.

Louisiana governor and 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said that the decision came because of new videos showing illegal activity by top Planned Parenthood officials.

“In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life,” he said. “It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.”

Jindal, who had ordered the state to investigate Planned Parenthood for potential felony violations following the release of the first video, canceled the contract because of its "at will" provision. That means that "either party can choose to cancel the contract at will after providing written notice,” according to a press release from the governor's office. “Governor Jindal and DHH decided to give the required 30-day notice to terminate the Planned Parenthood Medicaid provider contract because Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life."

"Pending the ongoing investigation, DHH [the Dept. of Health and Hospitals] reserves the right to amend the cancellation notice and terminate the provider agreement immediately should cause be determined," it states.

This action is just the latest by the pro-life governor, who last year signed a law requiring all abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Louisiana has been named the number one pro-life state by Americans United for Life for six years in a row.

A Planned Parenthood official told the left-wing blog Talking Points Memo that no Planned Parenthood facilities provide abortions, although the abortion provider hopes to build a facility to do so.

Gov. Jindal also halted the building that 8,000-square foot abortion megaplex, scheduled to be built in New Orleans, following the release of the first video.

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John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

This one shot from the latest PP sting video might be the most disturbing thing you see all year

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By John Jalsevac
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I’m about to show you something that, if you're alive and have a heartbeat, will deeply disturb you, and then make you hopping mad.

I warn you, it’s graphic. But everybody needs to see this. Because this is the truth. And even if the truth is difficult, and gruesome, and challenging, it must be known.

This morning the Center for Medical Progress released the latest in their series of undercover sting videos exposing the fact that Planned Parenthood is harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.

The first part is plenty disturbing, as director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, discusses how she “diversifies” Planned Parenthood's “revenue stream” by selling aborted baby parts, and how their abortionists can modify the abortion procedure (Note: totally illegal) to obtain “intact” fetuses.

But then the camera moves into the lab, where workers are actually involved in dissecting and dismembering aborted babies to get the useful body parts.

Describing their “last case” of the day, one of the workers tells an actor posing as someone interested in purchasing fetal body parts, that “it was a twin” at about 20 weeks gestation.

The camera then pans over to a dish, filled with what Planned Parenthood describes as “tissue.” One of the workers uses tweezers to pick up the intestines, and boasts about how sometimes “the organs come out really, really well.”

And that’s when I saw it. A little, beautiful, perfectly formed hand, gently clenched in a fist – a hand attached to an arm that had been torn from its owner's body, and thrown in a dish swimming with body parts.

...And then I saw the foot. And the other foot.

I wish I could say I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But I could, because I know what Planned Parenthood does. But there’s a difference between believing, and seeing.

And that’s why these photos must be shared as far and wide as possible.

After that, it gets even worse, as the man behind the camera uses his tweezers to pick up and inspect an arm and hand...and then the leg...and then another leg.

Yes, it is horrifying that Planned Parenthood is apparently lying about the fact that it makes a tidy profit off trafficking in the body parts of aborted babies.

But the worst thing of all is that Planned Parenthood has body parts to sell in the first place. That Planned Parenthood is daily, constantly, aborting babies that have hands, and feet, and hearts, and lungs.

The worst part is that every time Planned Parenthood sells a body part, it is because they have killed a baby, a human being like you and me – a human being that had the right to live, and love, and be, a baby whose life was summarily snuffed out, and turned into a “revenue stream.”

The worst part is that year after year, decade after decade, we let Planned Parenthood get away with the canard that they are only aborting "blobs of tissue," or "products of pregnancy" - as if we don't all know perfectly well what the product of a pregnancy is: a baby. 

I say, enough is enough. Shut Planned Parenthood down, now!

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