The New Hampshire Senate voted 15-9 Wednesday to pass a bill that would create a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, with 4 Republicans joining all 11 Democrats in the chamber to vote in its favor.
Buffer zones are critical in protecting patients from verbal and physical harassment, violence, and anti-abortion protesters who may block their path into a clinic. Since the beginning of 2013, clinic patients in New Hampshire have filed over 60 complaints that detail harassment and intimidation.
“New Hampshire cannot afford even one act of violence toward a woman and we should not tolerate the current harassment happening outside reproductive health care facilities in our state,” said Sara Persechino, the policy and community relations director for NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, in a statement. “This commonsense legislation is a step in the right direction for protecting patients seeking safe, legal abortion care from violence, harassment, and intimidation.”
SB 319 now moves to New Hampshire’s House.
The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley on whether local governments can create safety buffer zones around reproductive health clinics in January, but a verdict has not yet been announced.
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 2/19/14; NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire 2/19/14; Open States; Feminist Newswire 6/25/13, 1/15/14