Target: Massachusetts Senator Harriette L. Chandler
Goal: Applaud state officials for reinstating protections for women seeking reproductive healthcare
The Massachusetts state government has moved quickly to counteract the devastating effects of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against the use of abortion clinic buffer zones. Praise Senator Harriette Chandler, Governor Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts for joining forces to protect women’s access to an abortion procedure free of harassment.
It’s been less than a month since the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring protesters to stay at least 35 feet away from abortion clinics in Massachusetts, and healthcare providers such as Planned Parenthood say they’re already noticed a difference. At one of their clinics in Boston, anti-abortion protesters have resumed using extreme tactics such as screaming in women’s faces as they enter the center and following them down side streets after they’ve left to shame them into not having an abortion. One incident in Worcester forced staff to shelter their patients in locked rooms when a man broke into the clinic with a baseball bat. Some patients are now too afraid to show up for appointments.
Although the new bill will not reinstate buffer zones, as a previous petition demanded, it is a solution that will protect both the free speech of anti-abortion protestors and the safety of patients and staff. It will attempt to restore some of the protections of the buffer zone by making it illegal to block entrances or try to interfere with people or vehicles entering or leaving the facility. Police officers now have the right to require those who are interfering with a woman attempting to enter or depart a clinic to stand 25 feet away. The bill will also extend criminal penalties for protestors who use or threaten physical violence or intimidation for patients and staff attempting to enter or leave the building.
While protestors have the right to hold and express their opinions, these rights should not infringe on the safety of either patients or clinic employees while they obtain or perform a perfectly safe and legal healthcare procedure.
Thank Senator Chandler and the rest of the Massachusetts government for refusing to back down when it comes to protecting women’s right to access reproductive health free of harassment and violence.
Dear Senator Chandler,
I want to thank you for the unprecedented speed with which you and your colleagues drafted and passed a new bill that will help to protect the health and safety of patients and staff of abortion clinics across Massachusetts.
After the Supreme Court deemed abortion clinic buffer zones unconstitutional last month, anti-abortion protestors’ harassment has escalated and patients and staff have faced increasing threats and intimidation. We know all too well the violent acts of which some “pro-life” protestors are capable.
Trying to strike a balance between protecting the free speech of protestors and the rights of women to seek healthcare without harassment is a difficult task. This bill should appease both affected groups while ensuring that access to reproductive health, as well as the slew of other services provided by such centers, remains unobstructed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: openDemocracy via Flickr