Thursday, November 15, 2007

Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone

Gov. Patrick this week signed SB1353, An Act Relative to Public Safety, which expands the buffer zone around abortion clinics to 35 feet. The new law, which amends MGL c.266, s.120E1/2, says in part, "No person shall knowingly enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health care facility within a radius of thirty-five feet of any portion of an entrance to, exit from, or driveway of a reproductive health care facility, or within the area within a rectangle created by extending the outside boundaries of any entrance to, exit from, or driveway of, a reproductive health care facility in straight lines to the point where such lines intersect the sideline of the street in front of such entrance, exit or driveway."

According to the Boston Globe, Operation Rescue plans to challenge the law, but the Supreme Judicial Court, in response to a question from the Senate in 2000 (Opinion of the Justices to the Senate, 430 Mass. 1205 (2000)), indicated that a proposed 25-foot buffer zone would be constitutional. That opinion stated that floating buffer zones, as Massachusetts law previously provided are "problematic" and make compliance difficult. With a clearly defined boundary, "demonstrators may still engage in all forms of protest as they previously have done, but are simply constrained to do so outside the buffer zone."

More information on abortion in Massachusetts is available at Mass. Law About Abortion.