Mass. House approves a buffer zone workaround bill

BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts House approved a bill that hopes to put public safety measures in place for people coming in and out of abortion clinics. The bill, that passed the Senate just last week, would allow a police officer to order protesters to disperse if they are blocking an entrance to a clinic. A temporary buffer zone would then be issued for up to eight hours.

“What this bill does is the only time that that 25-foot radius comes into play is if someone substantially interferes with someone trying to get into one of these clinics; assaults and batters them,” said Westfield State Representative John Velis.

This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law creating a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics.

With just eight days left to get a bill to the Governor’s desk, some state lawmakers are concerned the bill is being rushed, and that it could lead to yet another lawsuit.

“To do something haphazardly, to do something too quickly that’s going to cause it to be overturned by the Supreme Court in the future isn’t going to help anybody, but more importantly I think that we need to hone in on the First Amendment, freedom of speech rights and that’s certainly where the crux of my argument falls,” said Springfield State Representative Angelo Puppolo.

It is important to note that this is not a pro-life or pro-choice issue. Protesters can still carry signs and voice their opinions – it is just a matter of where they can do so.

The Massachusetts House approved the bill, 116-35.

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