Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in McCullen v. Coakley, striking down a Massachusetts state law requiring a 35-foot fixed buffer zone around healthcare clinics while affirming the legality of buffer zones generally. After the ruling, Ranking Members John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Ranking Member Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) delivered the following statement:
Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.): "While I am heartened that the Supreme Court affirmed the government's right to protect all patients from outside intimidation when accessing healthcare clinics, the ruling today was a specific blow to Massachusetts patients' protections. When dealing with matters of access to health facilities, public safety must always be a central concern for lawmakers. No patient should ever have to face violence or fear reproach when seeking a legal health care service. In light of this decision, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that patients have both access to clinics and security upon their arrival."
Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.): "Every American should be able to visit his or her doctor without fear of being harassed, intimidated, or hurt. While protecting First Amendment free speech values, today's decision is undoubtedly a setback for public safety and health care access. I hope we can work on ways to strengthen existing protections for those seeking health care services without fear of intimidation or violence."