Federal Court Issues Preliminary Injunction In Manhattan Clinic Access Case

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office has obtained a preliminary injunction barring protesters from blocking access to a reproductive health facility in lower Manhattan.

Spitzer's office filed the case in October, 2005 in federal court to ensure that patients could access needed healthcare without intimidation and obstruction by the protesters. The "buffer zone" that the State requested protects a woman's right to medical care while ensuring that the protesters can communicate their message.

"We're pleased with the Court's ruling, which recognizes our dual interest in protecting the well-being of patients seeking medical care and preserving the First Amendment rights of the protesters," Spitzer said.

In addition to granting a buffer zone in front of the Planned Parenthood of New York City- Margaret Sanger Center, the Court entered an order prohibiting defendants from:

  • blocking access to the clinic;
  • physically pushing, shoving or harassing persons who approach, enter, leave or work at the clinic;
  • yelling or shouting in front of the clinic, which the Court found to interfere with the right of patients to obtain medical treatment in a non-disruptive environment;
  • threatening bodily harm to any person approaching the clinic, working at the clinic, or using the clinic's services.

In 1999, the Attorney General obtained a court order creating similar buffer zones in People of the State of New York v. Operation Rescue National, which addressed ongoing interference with access to reproductive health services in the Western District of New York, including Buffalo and Rochester.

The case is being handled by Lisa Landau, Director of the Reproductive Rights Unit with Anne Pearson, Assistant Attorney General, of the Civil Rights Bureau.