Burlington Won't Enforce Buffer Zone Ordinance in Response to Supreme Court Ruling

By Steph Machado

Published 07/02 2014 03:22PM

Updated 07/02 2014 06:14PM

BURLINGTON - Protestors outside Planned Parenthood will now be able to go up close to the health center.

City Attorney Eileen Blackwood has determined how a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about buffer zones will affect Burlington.

The decision in McCullen v. Coakley came last week, striking down a Massachusetts law that requires protestors to remain 35 feet from a reproductive health facility.

Burlington has a similar ordinance, passed in 2012. It keeps people from "congregating, patrolling, picketing or demonstrating" within a 35-foot buffer zone. It's primarily enforced outside the Planned Parenthood on St. Paul Street.

Blackwood says the Burlington Police Department will no longer enforce the buffer zone. However, the portion of the law that prohibits people from blocking access to the clinic will remain in place.

Moving forward, Blackwood is asking the Burlington City Council to amend the ordinance and consider other reasonable amendments at their July 14 meeting. The Council will have to abide by the Supreme Court decision in whatever changes it makes.

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