The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case seeking to overturn, on First Amendment grounds, a Massachusetts law creating a 35-foot buffer zone around reproductive health clinics. NASW National is initiating an amicus brief which will stress the importance of buffer zone laws to the safety of clinic employees and volunteers, and to women's right to access these clinics. In its brief, NASW will focus on the history of violence and intimidation at reproductive health clinics over the past years, continuing through today. After establishing a compelling need for buffer zone laws, the brief will turn to the specifics of the Massachusetts law, including its exception allowing clinic workers to enter the 35-foot zone. NASW will also argue that the law is content-neutral, does not favor either side of the debate, and is appropriate in light of the important interests served.
The Executive Committee of MA Chapter Board of Directors voted unanimously on October 23, 2013 to join National NASW in the Amicus Brief.
The committee was guided by NASW’s Social Work Speaks Policy Statement on Family Planning and Reproductive Choice which lists the following positions:
- Public policies and legislation, nationally and internationally, must support a woman’s authority over sexual life and reproductive capacity, from coercion, violence, and discrimination.
- A woman’s right to obtain an abortion, performed according to accepted medical standards and in an environment free of harassment or threat for both patients and providers.
National Abortion Federation is spearheading the initiative using an outside attorney from a major law firm to write the Amicus Brief.