Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a brief in federal court last week responding to a lawsuit by anti-abortion extremists challenging the state’s clinic safety buffer zone laws. Anti-abortion groups filed the lawsuit last month, claiming that the safety zones violate the groups’ right to free speech.
Coakley wrote in her brief that the 35-feet safety zones do not violate free speech, and are necessary to prevent harassment of clinic patients and staff, according to the Boston Globe.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the expanded 35-feet clinic safety buffer zones into law last November. The law expanded on legislation from 2000 that established smaller safety buffer zones but was difficult to enforce, according to reproductive choice advocates.
“For too long, patients and staff had to endure in-your-face screaming and harassment just to get to doctor’s appointments,” Angus McQuilken, vice president of public affairs for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe. “This 35-foot zone is more than reasonable.”