Massachusetts Responds to SCOTUS Ruling With New Abortion Clinic Protections

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A week after the Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts's 35-foot "buffer zone" around abortion clinics was unconstitutional, lawmakers in the state are preparing new laws to protect women. 

According to Politico, Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, both Democrats, are pushing to give police more authority to break up crowds blocking entrances, as well as pass a version of a federal law that makes it illegal to harass patients outside a clinic and a law to keep clinic driveways clear. “The Supreme Court may not have liked our buffer zone, but they did not lessen our commitment to protecting women’s access to reproductive health care in the commonwealth,” Coakley, who is running for the party's nomination for governor, said in a prepared statement. 

Martha Walz, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts also suggested the state pass a version of a New York law that makes it illegal to follow and harass someone within 15 meters of the premises of a clinic, according to The Boston Globe

Last week the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that set a 35-foot "buffer zone" around clinics, on the grounds that it limited protester's First Amendment rights. "The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests," the opinion reads. The court recommended that the state use a less "extreme" method to protect patients.

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