‘Buffer Zone’ Work-Around in Mass. Headed For Debate

Massachusetts Democrats say they’ve written a new bill providing clear access to abortion clinics. This follows a Supreme Court decision that found the state’s “buffer zone” law unconstitutional.

Last month, the court tossed out Massachusetts’ 35-foot protest-free zone around clinics. The court said it violated the free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters. So Attorney General Martha Coakley, Governor Deval Patrick and legislative leaders – all Democrats – wrote a work-around.

The bill would let police disperse crowds of two people or more blocking access to clinics. Then after a dispersal order is issued, protesters would have to stay at least 25 feet from the facility’s entrances and driveways for eight hours.

Patricia Stewart, the executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, says that just sounds like another buffer zone. And if the bill passes, she says, the state would be asking for another lawsuit.