WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is returning to the issue of regulating protests outside abortion clinics for the first time since 2000.

A changed court seemingly more protective of speech and less committed to abortion rights will hear arguments Wednesday over a Massachusetts law that keeps protesters 35 feet from the entrance to abortion clinics.

Seventy-seven-year-old Eleanor McCullen and other protesters at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester sued the state over the 2007 law, saying it limits their ability to encounter patients arriving for care. Federal courts in Massachusetts have upheld the law.

State officials and clinic employees say patients and staff feel safer and more easily enter the clinics. Abortion rights groups report that incidents of violence are down in states and cities that have buffer zones.