UPDATE: Madison Common Council amends ordinance creating "buffer - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Madison Common Council amends ordinance creating "buffer zones" around healthcare clinics

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison Common Council has amended a city ordinance that will require buffer zones around medical facilities, including abortion clinics.

Tuesday night the council changed the boundary to 100 feet. The council originally approved the ordinance last month, which called for a 160-foot buffer zone around entrances.

Alders approved the change unanimously.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The city council Tuesday will reconsider an ordinance requiring buffer zones around Madison healthcare facilities such as the Planned Parenthood facility on Orin Road.

The council passed an ordinance, introduced by Alder Lisa Subeck, on February 25 that created a 160-foot buffer zone around the entrance of healthcare facilities. The ordinance banned those protesting or advocating for various causes from coming within eight feet of anyone entering or exiting the facility inside the so-called buffer zone.

But Tuesday the council will re-consider the ordinance after Subeck recommended making some "minor tweaks."

Subeck said an amendment on the council's agenda Tuesday would alter the boundaries of the buffer zone from 160-feet from a facility's entrance to 100-feet from the entrance. Subeck said that alteration was made at the recommendation of Madison's city attorney.

She said the new proposal would also include a 30-foot buffer zone around the entrance to a healthcare facility's driveway or parking lot if that entrance falls outside of the 100-foot area established by the buffer zone. Subeck said that change was made to account for healthcare facilities with large parking lots.

The council will also tonight consider amending the definition of a "healthcare facility" as stated in the ordinance to clarify that the facility must provide medical procedures. The previous definition defined a healthcare facility as any office containing a licensed physician.

Subeck and other supporters of the ordinance say it's needed to protect people entering healthcare facilities for private procedures, like abortion, from protesters seeking to confront them or hand out leaflets.

Opponents of the proposal believe it limits free speech on public sidewalks falling within the buffer zones. Madison Vigil for Life, Students for Life Madison and Badger Catholic have filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance in federal court.

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