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Massachusetts

Protection Against Clinic Violence

Whoever knowingly obstructs entry to or departure from any medical facility or who enters or remains in any medical facility so as to impede the provision of medical services, in violation of a court order, written notice, or after having been asked to refrain by a law-enforcement official or a facility representative, for a first offense, will be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to six months, or both, and for each subsequent violation, will be fined from $500 to $5,000, imprisoned for up to 2.5 years, or both.  An aggrieved medical facility may bring a civil action for injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, costs, and attorneys' fees.  Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 266, §120E (Enacted 1993).

In addition, any person who knowingly enters or remains on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive-health-care facility within a radius of 35 feet of any portion of an entrance, exit or driveway of a reproductive-health-care facility or within the area within a rectangle created by extending the outside boundaries of any entrance, exit or driveway of a reproductive-health-care facility in straight lines to the point where such lines intersect the sideline of the street in front of such entrance, exit or driveway shall be punished, for a first offense, by a fine of up to $500, imprisonment for up to three months, or both, and for each subsequent offense, by a fine of $500 to $5,000, imprisonment for up to 2.5 years, or both. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 266, §120E1/2(b) (Enacted 2000; Last Amended 2007).

Any person who knowingly obstructs, detains, hinders, impedes, or blocks another person's entry to or exit from a reproductive-health-care facility shall be punished, for the first offense, by a fine of up to $500, imprisonment for up to three months, or both, and for each subsequent offense, by a fine of $500 to $5,000, imprisonment for up to 2.5 years, or both.  An aggrieved reproductive-health-care facility or person may bring a civil action for equitable relief.  In addition, any person whose rights to express their views, assemble, or pray near a reproductive-health-care facility have been violated or interfered with may bring a civil action for equitable relief.  Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 266, §120E1/2 (Enacted 2000; Last Amended 2007).

Although a lower court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of this law's "bubble-zone" provision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision and allowed the "bubble-zone" provision to take effect.  McGuire v. Reilly, 122 F. Supp. 2d 97 (D. Mass. 2000), rev'd and remanded, 260 F.3d 36 (1st Cir. 2001).  See also McGuire v. Reilly, 386 F.3d 45 (1st Cir. 2004) (court holding that statute was constitutional), cert. denied, 544 U.S. 974 (2005).  

In January 2008, a motion was filed for preliminary injunction of Mass. Gen. L. chapter 266, Section 120E1/2(b), as amended, which creates a fixed buffer with a radius of 35 feet around the entrances, exits and driveways of reproductive-health-care facilities that provide abortion services.  In August 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts upheld the facial constitutionality of the statute, and denied the plaintiffs' request for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.  McCullen v. Coakley, 573 F. Supp. 2d 382 (D. Mass. 2008).  The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this decision in July 2009. McCullen v. Coakley, 573 F. Supp. 2d 382 (D. Mass. 2008), aff'd, No. 08-2310 (1st Cir. 2009).  In 2010, the Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari.


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