Pittsburgh Buffer Zone Abortion Center Law Weakened by Federal Judge
by Steven Ertelt
December 18, 2009
Pittsburgh, PA (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge on Thursday weakened the buffer zone law in Pittsburgh that has been the subject of lawsuits by pro-life advocates. The debate revolves around a 2005 bubble zone law that restricted access to public areas surrounding abortion businesses.
The measure prohibits pro-life advocates from coming within 15 feet of the door of any health care facility, which would include abortion centers. Within 100 feet of the entrance, pro-life advocates must stay a distance of eight feet away from anyone heading to the abortion facility.
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys challenged the local law as unconstitutional for prohibiting speech and helped represent a pro-life nurse who took on the ordinance, which prohibited her from counseling and speaking with women.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer permanently prohibited the city using the so-called 100-foot bubble zone.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Judge Fischer came into play after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit issued a key decision striking down the ordinance.
She met with both ADF attorneys and the city and told city lawyers they had to decide which buffer law they wanted to keep in place.
David Cortman, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, told the newspaper he supported the judge’s order.
"It basically grants us all the relief that we were looking for," he said.
He also said the order from the judge makes it clear that abortion center staff can’t stand inside the 15-foot zone and harass pro-life advocates.
"One of the reasons that we challenged the fixed zone is that, on the face of it, it was based on content," he said. "It allowed some people to speak but not others."
Mary Kathryn Brown, a resident of Pittsburgh who is pro-life and challenged the law, has never trespassed or blocked individuals from entering or leaving abortion facilities, he noted.
The law that was overturned said, within 100 feet of clinics, individuals must first obtain consent to approach a person closer than 8 feet away before they are permitted to distribute leaflets or handbills; display a sign; or engage in oral protest, education or counseling.
In January 2006, Brown tried to approach within eight feet of someone entering the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center and was threatened with arrest by a police officer.
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.telladf.org
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