In the wake of deadly violence at abortion clinics in the 1990s, federal, state and city laws were enacted to protect access to reproductive health care clinics. Clinic access laws are an important tool in responding to clinic violence, deterring possible offenders, and ensuring access to reproductive health care, while appropriately protecting the First Amendment rights of protesters to peacefully express their views.
There are three principal laws that protect clinic access in New York: (1) the Federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE); (2) the New York State version of FACE; and (3) the New York City law entitled Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act (ARHCF). The New York City clinic access law was amended in 2009 to provide greater protections to people seeking or providing reproductive health care services, and to make the clinic access law easier to enforce.
The NYCLU has devised the following materials to help reproductive health care clinic employees, volunteers, and patients better understand the law; to more easily recognize the difference between lawful, constitutionally-protected protest activities and protest activities that may cross the line into obstructive misconduct that violates the clinic access laws; and to provide guidance as to how to best document possible violations of the law.