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Massachusetts Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones Upheld in Court

The constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that expanded buffer zones around abortion clinics to 35 feet has been upheld by a federal judge. Anti-abortion protesters had filed suit and argued that the law had forced them onto the streets and prevents freedom of speech.

The law went into effect in November 2007 and expanded on legislation from 2000 that established 18 foot safety buffer zones around clinics and a 6 foot ‘floating’ buffer zone around patients. The 2000 law was difficult to enforce, in large part because of difficulty in defining a patient’s consent to a closer encounter.

In part, the law states that “No person shall knowingly enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health care facility within a radius of thirty-five feet of any portion of an entrance to, exit from, or driveway of a reproductive health care facility, or within the area within a rectangle created by extending the outside boundaries of any entrance to, exit from, 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.”

Sources:

Massachusetts Law Updates 11/15/07; Feminist Daily News Wire 11/15/07; Boston Globe 11/14/07; Associated Press 8/25/08; Massachusetts Senate, No. 1353