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Massachusetts Bill Would Mandate 25-Foot Buffer Zone Around Clinics

Massachusetts’ State House was packed with pro-choice and anti-choice demonstrators yesterday as House Representatives heard arguments for and against a proposed bill which would prevent protesters from coming within 25 feet of clinic entrances and driveways.

If passed, Massachusetts will become the first state in the nation to mandate buffer zones for abortion clinics. Although other states have granted temporary restraining orders, those requests for buffer zones were considered on a case-by-case basis, and issued through court orders.

Last year, similar legislation passed in the Senate but later died in the House when Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas Finneran failed to take action on the bill. Finneran, who opposes abortion rights, has publicly pledged not to use his position to defeat the measure, a promise that the bill’s sponsor, Senator Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln) said he “will be held” to.

In December 1994, anti-abortion extremist John C. Salvi III murdered two receptionists and wounded five others during a shooting spree at two Boston-area abortion clinics.

Sources:

Boston Globe - April 15-16, 1999