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June 28, 2000


Communications Department

Supreme Court Affirms Colorado Buffer Zone in Hill v. Colorado

Washington, DC - The Supreme Court today upheld a Colorado statute that prevents protesters from approaching within 8 feet of people entering or exiting health care facilities without their consent. "Today's decision is an important victory in the struggle to ensure that women and men have access to their health care free from intimidation and harassment," said Vicki Saporta, Executive Director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). "With this ruling, the Supreme Court has made the important distinction between free speech and unwanted, harassing activity. While protesters have a constitutional right to the former, the court has sent a clear message that they cannot engage in the latter."

Saporta continued, "Contrary to what the opponents of this statute have argued, this case is not about restricting wanted activity, nor is it about curtailing free expression. What the Supreme Court has recognized is that this statute provides ample room for leafleting and speech, and only prevents protesters' close physical proximity to someone who objects to that proximity."

"The National Abortion Federation has been collecting statistics on incidents of violence against abortion providers for more than 20 years. We know from the experience in Colorado and in other areas of the country that buffer zones help prevent peaceful protest from escalating into violent behavior. What we have witnessed is that this type of protective area around health care facilities can lead to a decrease in violence, at the same time the number of protests stays the same or even increases."

"The court has affirmed that intimidating conduct can adversely affect safe access to health care," stated Saporta. "Americans have a right to obtain their health care without being intimidated and harassed. They have a right to tell a protester not to approach them when it's against their will. We applaud this important decision, which we believe will prevent violence and harassment against health care providers and those seeking their care."


The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.

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