The Massachusetts legislature has approved a bill designed to increase the safety of individuals accessing abortion clinics in the state. The bill is now headed to Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk.
S. 2283, called An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities, sets up several guarantees of protection outside of clinics. For example, it prohibits impeding access to clinics, and makes it illegal to use force to impede access. It also give law enforcement the power to break up groups of two or more people who are impeding access; after being dispersed, the group then has to wait at least 25 feet from the clinic for several hours.
The legislation was filed in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June McCullen v. Coakley decision, which found Massachusetts’ 35-foot buffer zone law to be unconstitutional.
Gov. Patrick has supported the legislation from the beginning and is expected to sign it. In a statement last week, the governor said the bill will protect patients and clinic employees, and that he knows “the legislature shares my commitment to implementing these protections, and trust that my partners in the State House will act on this bill swiftly.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article noted the wrong bill number.