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Jewish groups offer concerns on lifting of abortion clinic buffer

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Reform movement, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women expressed concern about a Supreme Court decision banning buffer zones at abortion clinics.

The Religious Action Center of the Reform movement said on Twitter that it was “concerned” by Thursday’s ruling in which the court unanimously declared unconstitutional a 2007 Massachusetts law mandating 35-foot buffer zones at abortion clinics, citing free speech protections.

In a statement issued later, the RAC said the ruling was overly onerous on authorities seeking to protect women seeking abortions.

“The decision effectively puts in place a system of onerous burdens — such as seeking separate injunctions in court — to protect individuals entering the reproductive health clinics, tipping the scales against the rights of women and clinic workers,” the statement said.

NCJW said the ruling would endanger clinic staffers and clients.

“It puts at physical risk both the women seeking care at such clinics and those who work at them,” NCJW said in a statement.

A number of groups that advocate for abortion rights had defended the law, saying it protected women’s constitutional right to an abortion from the threat of violence.

The ADL in a statement called the decision “disappointing and a setback for access to reproductive health services in Massachusetts.”

However, the ADL also welcomed the decision’s recognition of free speech rights and of the need to secure abortion clinics and prevent the obstruction of staffers and clients.

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