By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/30/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The state of Massachusetts is enhancing security around abortion clinics. After the U.S. Supreme Court voided the state's buffer zone law that kept protesters 35 feet away, saying it violated freedom of speech, new protests are expected throughout the state.
The Supreme Court declared last week that the 2007 law that kept protesters back 35 feet violated the free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In major Massachusetts cities, Boston, Worcester and Springfield, extra police have been deployed to clinics. Abortion-provider Planned Parenthood said it was training new "patient escorts" to help women through protests if needed.
"We have been assured that laws will be enforced," Marty Walz, director of Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts, said. "There will be additional police presence today, tomorrow, next week and as needed until we work out a long-term solution."
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Walz says she expects a bill to be drafted as early as next week so it can become law before the legislative session ends next month. "The clock is ticking and we know it," Walz says.
The Supreme Court declared last week that the 2007 law that kept protesters back 35 feet violated the free speech rights of anti-abortion protesters under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The buffer zone law prevented them from standing on the sidewalk and speaking to people entering the clinics.
Citizens for Life, an anti-abortion group in Massachusetts called the Supreme Court decision "a victory for all citizens who value their First Amendment rights and for clinic-bound women who might need someone to talk to."
Massachusetts has 22 abortion providers, including 12 clinics and 10 hospitals, according to lobby group NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The ruling has far-reaching implications. There are similar fixed buffer zones adopted by five municipalities around the country, including San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
In response to the ruling, a handful of protesters carrying signs reading "Abortion exploits women" and "Face it, abortion kills a person" gathered outside Planned Parenthood's clinic in Boston last week, standing in an area that had previously been off-limits.
A police car was parked in front of the clinic and a Planned Parenthood volunteer was standing near the entrance, helping patients walk past the protest to the door.
"We know they're scared and we know they're confused," one elderly protester said at the scene.
She said the elimination of the buffer zone allowed protesters to approach patients. "Before, yelling was the only way we could project our voice."
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