Hill v. Colorado and Future Erosion of Reproductive Freedom
August 23, 2023
Jessica Mason Pieklo reports that the Becket Fund, a conservative legal advocacy organization, is positioning itself to exacerbate the violence that clinics are enduring. Last month, Becket Fund filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking for the Court to overturn Hill v. Colorado, which was decided in 2000.
According to the National Abortion Federation’s 2022 Violence and Disruption Report, since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion providers and patients have seen a “sharp increase” in violence at abortion clinics. Clinics experienced more “arson, burglaries, death threats and invasions” last year than in 2021. Incidents of stalking were up 229%. And things might get much worse.
In Hill, the Court upheld a law that banned approaching another person within eight feet outside clinics “for the purpose of […] engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling,” unless that person consents. The law also prevents protesters from coming within 100 feet of the clinic’s entrance. Around 22 years after Hill, Westchester County in New York passed a similar law. The Becket Fund is challenging Westchester County’s law and the precedent – i.e., the Hill decision – that it relies on.
Pieklo notes that Hill is the “last remaining precedent protecting the public from protesters approaching them and harassing them.” If the Supreme Court decides to hear the Becket Fund’s case, there exists a terrifying probability that it will overturn Hill and further erode our fundamental human rights.
The “bubble zones” created by Hill protect providers, patients, and clinics. Their existence is critical to ensuring that people can obtain the care they need. We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation firmly believe that people should be able to safely access health care, including abortion care, without facing violence, threats, or intimidation.