The US Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Massachusetts law that enforced a 35-foot speech-free buffer zone around abortion clinics, saying the law silenced a broader spectrum of speech than is necessary to protect the clinics and their patients.

In a 9-to-0 decision, the high court ruled that the state law violated the free-speech rights of a group of anti-abortion counselors seeking the opportunity to convince women to reverse their plans to end their pregnancies.

The counselors said they had a right to approach would-be patients on public sidewalks and public streets to engage in quiet conversations and distribute leaflets. The 35-foot buffer zone prevented them from undertaking these activities, they said.

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