Friday, December 18, 2009
A U.S. District Court Judge has ruled that the city of Pittsburgh can no longer use a 100-foot "bubble zone" around medical facilities to prevent anti-abortion advocates from approaching clients of a clinic. The decision stems from a 2006 lawsuit that challenged the law because of the restriction of free speech around clinics. U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer told the city of Pittsburgh to decided between either a 15 foot buffer zone, which prevents any protests or demonstrations within 15 feet of a building's entrance, or the 100 foot "bubble zone." The "bubble zone" was a 100 foot area from the front of the building where protesters or advocates were not allowed to hand out any materials for or against abortion. Also, if a client or patient asked a protester or advocate to stay away from them the protester or advocate had to stay eight feet away from the patient while the patient was within 100 feet of the building's entrance. Planned Parenthood CEO Kimberly Evert says she expected this decision and is pleased that the city decided to keep the 15 foot buffer zone but is concerned that their may be safety issues for people either entering or leaving a clinic. Evert says that now a protester or advocate will be allowed to hand out literature and will not be required to step back which may lead to confrontation.