New Hampshire Senate Committee Votes Against Buffer Zone Bill

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 Thursday against a bill that would establish a 25-foot “patient safety zone” to protect women seeking abortions from harassment by anti-choice protesters.

“We are outraged that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee could not look past their personal abortion views to recognize the state’s vested interest in ensuring patients can safely access legally protected health care services,” said Sara Persechino, policy and community relations director with NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, in a statement.

The committee vote does not mean the buffer zone bill is dead, however, as every bill introduced in New Hampshire receives a floor vote. While an “inexpedient to legislate” vote, or recommendation to kill a bill, often dooms it on the floor, this bill has three Republican co-sponsors in a narrowly Republican-dominated chamber. Persechino told RH Reality Check that she hopes for at least a 14-10 vote in favor of the bill.

At the committee hearing on the bill in late January, witnesses testified that anti-choice protesters are often aggressive and hostile in their actions toward patients and clinic escorts near health clinics. One woman described hiding in the stoop of a building for an hour after being followed.

Opponents of patient safety zones claim that they violate First Amendment rights, or that protesters are merely “plump grandmas” who wish to talk to women in soft voices. But concerns for the safety of women seeking reproductive care have motivated several cities and states to pass buffer zone laws, given that some anti-choice protest activity can range from verbal or physical intimidation to bombings or shootings.

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  • Plum Dumpling

    Good to see the beginning of sane restrictions on these dangerous zealots.

  • Mandy

    How about people start “protesting” the exact same way in front of churches and see how long it takes for these religious extremists to cry about it. I mean we’re just young women who want to “talk to them in soft voices”. And by soft voices I mean yell at them about how they are murders and how their pastors are lying to them. Have people hold up graphic posters of LGBT kids who’ve committed suicide because of religious views telling them they are abominations who will burn in hell, and holding pictures of people like Gerri Santoro who died alone in a pool of her own blood from an attempt at a self abortion. In this instance it’s time to fight fire with fire and give these people a taste of their own medicine. Maybe then they can see how bad it is.

    • HeilMary1

      How about pics of ruined mothers suffering obstetric fistulas, fetus-caused cancers, sepsis limb amputations, etc.?

  • fiona64

    These shrieking harridans are NOT owed a captive audience … and that’s just what they seek. Buffer zones are vital to both patient and provider safety. I guess clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, and murderer Scott Roeder are just “plump grandmas”?