For Immediate Release - July 29, 2014

AG Coakley Commends Legislature for Passage of Bill to Enhance Safe Access to Reproductive Health Centers

Bill Aims to Ensure Public Safety and Access after Supreme Court Overturned Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley issued the following statement today in response to the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives passing An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities:

“Women should be able to access reproductive health care free from intimidation and threats, and this bill is a major step toward protecting those rights and protecting public safety around these facilities. I am so thankful to the Legislature for their leadership on this issue, and I look forward to the Governor signing this bill into law soon.”

BACKGROUND

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision reversing a lower court ruling in McCullen v. Coakley, and held that the Massachusetts buffer zone law was unconstitutional. The 2007 law established a 35-foot protest-free buffer zone to protect the safety of patients and staff at reproductive health care centers.

On July 14, in response to that decision, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM), AG Coakley, Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, and Senator Harriette L. Chandler announced the filing of An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities.

AG Coakley testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of this bill on July 16. In her testimony, she stressed that the bill enhances existing laws and creates new ones to address public safety concerns, while at the same time meeting the legal standards established in the Supreme Court’s opinion.

The Massachusetts Senate subsequently passed the bill on July 16 and the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed the bill on July 23. It was enacted by both branches and sent to the Governor’s desk today.

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