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July 30, 2014

Massachusetts Governor Signs Bill to Reverse SCOTUS Buffer Zone Ruling

New Law Ensuring Safe Access to Reproductive Health Care Clinics Goes into Effect Immediately

BOSTON – Today, Gov. Deval Patrick signed Massachusetts Clinic Protection Bill S.2283 into law, a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's June 26th decision in McCullen v. Coakley which struck down the state's buffer zone law. The bill will go into effect immediately, thereby limiting the anti-choice harassment and intimidation that would otherwise take place outside reproductive health care facilities.  

Said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America:

"The swift passage of the Safe Health Care Access Bill is proof that the voters will not tolerate excessive threats or violence against those who seek medical care and that states will protect their residents. History has proven time and again that buffer zones protect clinic patients and staff from the conditions that enable greater vulnerability to the harassment, intimidation, and violence that clinics have experienced in recent years.

"Women who seek health care should not have to fear for their safety and we applaud Gov. Patrick's courage and executive leadership in making sure that Massachusetts shuts down the opening for harm that the Supreme Court left behind. The sole focus of clinics should be providing patients with the best care possible, not investing in bulletproof glass, armed guards, and metal detectors."

Said Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts:

"Whether you call someone a protestor or a so-called 'sidewalk counselor,' the harassment faced by patients, families, and clinic workers is very real. So-called 'sidewalk counselors' are not counselors: they coerce and frighten women out of seeking constitutionally protected health care. This law balances the concerns raised by the Supreme Court decision and the safety of our communities.

"Here in Massachusetts, we will not tolerate the harassment and intimidation of women, families, and health care workers based on ideological agendas. All people in our state have the right to access any health service free from violence and intimidation. In signing this bill into law, the Commonwealth declared that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor without the interference of strangers on the street.

"NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is grateful to Gov. Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, and Senator Harriet Chandler, as well as the full Massachusetts legislature, for moving so quickly to pass the Safe Health Care Access Bill.

"As a state that prides itself on providing excellent health care and having the highest level of insurance coverage in the country, we can do better than allowing women to be bullied out of seeking health care. Today, we did."

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