Introduced by Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), SB 319 was a response to protests in front of Planned Parenthood in Manchester, where more than than 60 patient complaints have been logged since the beginning of 2013.
The changes included making the ordinance more consistent with a buffer zone law upheld by the Supreme Court in Hill v. Colorado by changing the reach of the protective zone from 160 feet to 100 feet. Also, a 30-foot zone was added around driveway entrances to health-care facilities to protect those arriving by vehicle.
Anti-choice protesters in Englewood, New Jersey, can no longer come within an eight-foot radius of a health-care facility’s entrance, exit, or driveway, after the city council voted unanimously Tuesday to enact a buffer zone to protect patients from harassment.
Reproductive rights advocates around the country are calling for additional safety measures, such as buffer zone laws, to protect staff and patients at reproductive health-care clinics.
Susan Cahill, a physician assistant who manages All Families Healthcare, told RH Reality Check that she believes the break-in was part of a coordinated effort to intimidate the facility into no longer providing abortion care.
Friday’s ruling leaves in place a new ordinance that creates buffer zones at entrances to health-care facilities in the city while a legal challenge to its constitutionality moves forward.
Passed by the city council Tuesday, the new ordinance will require a 160-foot buffer zone around any health-care clinic in the city, with a fine of up to $750 for violators.
The state senate rejected a committee recommendation that the bill be killed, and the measure to protect abortion patients now advances to the state house.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of an evangelical couple and their high school children argues the buffer zone unconstitutionally blocks their ability to “counsel” patients entering reproductive health-care clinics.
What relatively peaceful anti-choice protesters may not understand is that their behavior is relative: They’re a physical representation of threats that have already been made, and in some cases executed, in the past and online.