PITTSBURGH (AP) – A federal appeals court is upholding a Pittsburgh ordinance that creates a 15-foot buffer zone against protests outside abortion clinics and is also allowing “sidewalk counseling” within that zone.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday said the city can restrict congregating, picketing, patrolling and demonstrating in the immediate vicinity of clinics, but the zone restrictions don’t apply to “calm and peaceful” one-on-one conversations.

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The buffer zone law concerns any hospital or health care facility, but the case arose over demarcated areas outside two Pittsburgh abortion clinics.

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The plaintiffs argued the buffer zone makes it difficult to communicate their message and to distinguish passers-by from the clinic patients they want to reach.

City lawyers had argued “sidewalk counseling” is a form of demonstrating.

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