BOSTON (WWLP) – Just two days after the “Safe Access Bill” was filed, state lawmakers heard testimony from people on both sides of the buffer zone.
“A person who objects to abortion has a right to express that view. But a person seeking health care also has the right to feel safe,” said Governor Patrick at the testimony.
The new bill would give police officers more authority to order two or more protesters to disperse if they are blocking entrances to reproductive health clinics. It also protects patients and staff from injury or intimidation near the doors of a facility. The bill does not restrict protesters from holding signs or expressing their views outside of abortion clinics; it aims to protect the people trying to get in.
“These bills are necessary because they only address behavior that is, we believe, unlawful. It is not about speech, it is about the safety of those who work and need access to those clinics,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Eleanor McCullen’s lawsuit to ban no-protest zones around abortion clinics. McCullen told 22News, if this new bill passes, she will be heading back to court.
“The beautiful part of McCullen vs. Coakley, the justices see First Amendment rights. And this is unconstitutional, yes, we will fight it,” said Eleanor.
The Senate passed the bill Wednesday night on a voice vote. Next, the bill will go to the House for consideration.