For Immediate Release - June 27, 2014

AG’s Office Reiterates Protections for Planned Parenthood Patients and Employees Following Supreme Court Decision

People with Questions or Concerns can Call the AG’s Civil Rights Division

BOSTON – Following yesterday’s United States Supreme Court decision striking down the Commonwealth’s buffer zone law, the Attorney General’s Office today issued the following reminders about the legal protections that continue to exist for patients seeking safe access to reproductive health care.

“After yesterday’s decision, our work continues to protect women’s safe access to reproductive health care,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “What is important to remember – before and after this ruling - is that women continue to have basic rights to seek reproductive health care free from harassment and intimidation. We are reviewing additional options to enhance those protections, while respecting the standards laid out in yesterday’s court ruling.”

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling and held that the Commonwealth’s 35-foot buffer zone was unconstitutional. As a result, AG Coakley vowed to begin working immediately with all stakeholders, including the facilities and local law enforcement, to ensure access to reproductive health clinics free from harassment.

There are existing laws that prohibit physical blocking or impeding of access into reproductive health clinics or that ban the use of threats or intimidation to interfere with the exercise of rights. These laws include:

  • The Massachusetts Civil Rights Act that prohibits the use of threats, intimidation, or coercion to interfere with the exercise of a right;
  • Section E of the buffer zone law that was left intact by the Supreme Court, prohibits individuals from obstructing access to reproductive health care facilities; and
  • The federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) that prohibits the use of force or threat of use of force to interfere with access to reproductive healthcare facilities.

People with questions or concerns should call the AG’s Civil Rights Division at (617) 963-2567.

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