Supreme Court McCullen Decision Dangerous

High Court Decision on Buffer Zone Protections Dangerous to Women

Law Critical to Protecting Public Safety and Religious Freedom Overturned

The New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is dismayed by the decision by the Supreme Court today in McCullen v. Coakley that overturned a Massachusetts law for a 35-foot buffer zone enacted to protect women as they access reproductive health care.

McCullen v. Coakley, which is about a 35-foot “buffer zone” for protesters around clinics where women access a wide range of health care – including abortions – in Massachusetts. Eleanor McCullen believes her First Amendment free speech rights are infringed unless she is able to try to convince women to not get an abortion as they enter the clinic. Earlier this month, New Hampshire’s Governor Maggie Hassan signed that state’s new 25-ft buzzer zone law.

Reverend Elizabeth McMaster, NM RCRC Clergy for Choice member and volunteer clinic escort said, “Today’s decision unfortunately tips the scales of justice away from the woman who is following her own God-given conscience when accessing reproductive health services.  It is justice denied.”

Just because one person asserts that their deeply-held beliefs are more important than the beliefs of a woman accessing healthcare does not make it so.  We’re concerned that the Court has allowed strangers to intercede in the personal health decisions of women and families when they have not been invited – and indeed are not welcome.

Free speech rights should not supersede the rights and well-being of women who have already entered into a thoughtful discernment process about their own reproductive healthcare, and indeed, their own future and that of their family.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was one of twelve religious organizations to join an amicus curiae brief authored by the Anti-Defamation League in support of the buffer zone law.


The New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is the state’s only interfaith coalition of religious and religiously affiliated organizations that supports reproductive justice for every person.  We are pro-faith, pro-family and pro-choice.

About Joan Lamunyon Sanford

Executive Director of the NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
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