June 11, 2014 — Women's rights groups are applauding New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) for signing a bill (SB 319) that will impose a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in the state, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
The measure was signed into law on Tuesday and takes effect in 30 days. Its enactment comes as the Supreme Court is preparing to rule this month on the constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that requires a 35-foot buffer zone (AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/10).
The New Hampshire law applies to all five of the state's abortion clinics, but it was created to address protests at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Manchester (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/9).
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England senior policy adviser Jennifer Frizzell said the buffer zones will ensure patients' privacy and bolster public safety.
Frizzell noted that the new law addresses some of the issues raised in the Massachusetts case by applying the buffer zone requirement to all demonstrators, not just those opposed to abortion rights. Further, the law allows local officials and clinics to tailor the requirement to their areas.
NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire Executive Director Laura Thibault said that no one "should face violence, public shaming or intimidation while accessing safe, legal health services."
Meanwhile, Hassan said, "Women should be able to access critical health services without fearing for their safety and this bipartisan, commonsense measure will help ensure the safety of patients and the public, while also protecting the rights of free speech and privacy" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/10).