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Governor Patrick Signs Safe Access Bill

Posted July 30, 2014  Governor Deval Patrick today signed into law a bill designed to ensure that those seeking the services of reproductive health facilities will have safe and unimpeded access.  The bill, An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities, was passed by the Massachusetts Senate on July 16 and by the Massachusetts House of Representatives on July 23.  The bill gives police the authority to disperse protesters who are substantially impeding access to a clinic and requires those protestors to stay at least 25 feet from the clinic’s entrances for up to eight hours. The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of the bill.

The bill followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision in  McCullen v. Coakley, which held that the Massachusetts buffer zone law was unconstitutional. A 2007 law established a 35-foot protest-free buffer zone to protect the safety of patients and staff at reproductive health care centers.

The new law is effective immediately.