SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

June 27, 2014

Abortion foes hail Supreme Court decision as 'great victory'

State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, called it a “great victory” for freedom of speech.

But, Andover resident Rebecca Haley-Park said she was outraged.

Lyons and Haley-Park were reacting yesterday to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the Massachusetts buffer zone law that excluded protesters outside abortion clinics.

The unanimous decision released yesterday overturns the state law setting a 35-foot protest-free zone outside the clinics, saying it violates the First Amendment rights of protesters.

Hayley-Park said she has spent summers fundraising for Planned Parenthood in Boston and often was harassed.

“I’ve been literally chased around by men screaming at me and shoving pictures of partial birth abortions in my face. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be accosted like that when you’re already facing a distressing, difficult situation,” she said.

Anyone who has walked by, or into, a Planned Parenthood, especially in an urban setting, know how abrasive and intimidating these groups are,” Haley-Park said.

“They rely on scare tactics and the vulnerable situation of their victims to perpetuate their agenda. This isn’t simply an issue of free speech, this is an issue concerning the safety of women utilizing the services of planned parenthood, whether it be for a simple doctor’s appointment, an STD test, or, yes, an abortion,” Haley-Park said.

But, Rep. Lyons see its differently.

“Today was a victory for free speech in Massachusetts. People have the right to express their opinions on sidewalks,” he said. “They have the right to give information to women who wish to seek it on the sidewalks.”

The Supreme Court ruled that the state’s law unconstitutionally restricted speech on public ways and sidewalks. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, found that “buffer zones serve the Commonwealth’s legitimate interests in maintaining public safety on streets and sidewalks and in preserving access to adjacent reproductive healthcare facilities,” but wrote that they also “impose serious burdens on petitioners’ speech, depriving them of their two primary methods of communicating with arriving patients: close, personal conversations and distribution of literature.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • 140724_SN_DLE_PEM1-1 Peabody Essex Museum severs ties with Gordon College

    SALEM -- The Peabody Essex Museum announced Thursday that it had ended its longstanding collaboration with Gordon College and its museum studies program, saying the school's attitude toward gay and lesbian individuals conflicts with its fundamental values.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 7 Stories

  • Cop wants pension credit for lifeguard work BOXFORD -- A veteran Boxford police officer is trying to boost his retirement pension by getting credit for his summer job as a lifeguard nearly four decades ago. In a letter to a state appeals board, John Iannazzo said working as a lifeguard for the

    July 25, 2014

  • 140724_SN_DLE_BRIMBAL3 Residents skeptical of Brimbal Avenue plans

    BEVERLY -- Neighborhood residents turned out in healthy numbers Thursday for an open meeting to see and discuss new design plans for the Brimbal Avenue/Route 128 interchange. Concerns ranged from biking and pedestrian safety to tax dollars spending a

    July 25, 2014 6 Photos 9 Stories

  • 140724_SN_DLE_GRIFFIN6 Peabody's new police chief receives upbeat welcome

    PEABODY -- More than 100 family, friends, well-wishers, city officials and police officers lined Wiggin Auditorium in City Hall yesterday afternoon to applaud the swearing in of former Salem Capt. Thomas Griffin as the city's new police chief. "Today

    July 24, 2014 8 Photos

  • 140721_GT_MSP_MARKETBASKET_04 [Duplicate] Ousted CEO bids for Market Basket Arthur T. Demoulas' offer to buy the rest of the supermarket chain embroiled in a widespread protest and boycott was met with elation, and then a reality check, protest organizers said Thursday. Demoulas announced his offer Wednesday night, though he

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo