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Mass. Antiabortion-Rights Group Says New Efforts To Protect Clinics Will Spur Litigation

July 10, 2014 — An antiabortion-rights group in Massachusetts has sent a letter to state lawmakers warning that legislation designed to protect access to abortion clinics would likely face legal challenges, the AP/Boston Herald reports (Salsberg, AP/Boston Herald, 7/8).

The Supreme Court last month struck down the state's "buffer zone" law, which only permitted people to enter a 35-foot zone around abortion clinics to access the facility itself or to reach another destination.

Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has said he aims to have a bill on his desk by the end of July to bolster abortion clinic security in a manner that complies with the high court's ruling. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) indicated that she and state lawmakers have started working on the legislation, but details have not yet been finalized (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/7).

According to the AP/Herald, lawmakers could propose the bill as early as this week.

Letter Details

Massachusetts Citizens for Life in the letter to state lawmakers wrote that potential legislation "in all likelihood will lead to more litigation" because it might infringe on protesters' First Amendment rights.

The group added, "As you consider voting on [Coakley's] new proposal, please think carefully as to whether or not the latest version will pass constitutional muster." The group noted that Coakley had previously made assurances the buffer zone legislation, enacted in 2007, would withstand a legal challenge.

Lawmakers Pledge To Pursue Measure

Meanwhile, Coakley and other state and local officials at a rally on Tuesday night pledged to continue to protect women's access to abortion clinics.

Coakley said the new legislation would protect women's access to care while also respecting protesters' rights (AP/Boston Herald, 7/8).