Massachusetts leaders, still smarting from a unanimous Supreme Court rebuke, are preparing to take another shot at keeping protesters away from women entering abortion clinics in the state.
The high court last week ruled that Massachusetts’ 35-foot “buffer zone” outside the facilities is unconstitutional. A majority of justices said such a large area is overly restrictive of free speech.
Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, Democrats who supported the 35-foot zone as a public safety response to protect vulnerable women, announced jointly Wednesday that they’re crafting a series of measures intended to achieve the same goal without violating the Constitution.
“The Supreme Court may not have liked our buffer zone, but they did not lessen our commitment to protecting women’s access to reproductive health care in the commonwealth,” Coakley said, according to prepared remarks.
Among their plans: rewriting state laws to strengthen police officers’ ability to disperse a crowd blocking a clinic entrance; passing a law requiring that clinic driveways be kept clear; and passing a state version of the federal FACE Act, which imposes criminal penalties for harassing or interfering with patients outside an abortion clinic.