BOSTON — In Boston, hundreds of abortion rights advocates are pushing for a strong response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down buffer zones outside clinics.
Hundreds gathered in Boston Tuesday night to protest that decision as well as the ruling that some employers have the right to opt out of health insurance coverage for contraception.
A Balancing Act
After the Supreme Court ruled that the state’s 35-foot abortion clinic buffer zone law is unconstitutional, women’s health advocates have acted quickly to push through new legislation to enhance public safety around clinics without violating the free speech rights the court acted to protect.
It’s a balancing act many of those who turned out to demonstrate on City Hall Plaza expect state lawmakers can easily perform. Jackie Geilfuss said she will contact her local legislators and urge them to support the bill.
“I absolutely respect freedom of speech — that’s why we were here today — but I think it was really shortsighted to just say that it was peaceable assembly that’s happening in front of clinics because that’s not what is happening,” she said.
Among the lawmakers waiting to see a legislative response to the Supreme Court’s buffer zone ruling is Somerset Rep. Patricia Haddad. She’s the top-ranking woman in the House and says she knows House Speaker Robert DeLeo is committed to providing more clinic protection before this year’s legislative session ends at the end of the month.
And she spoke with Gov. Deval Patrick at the rally.
“He said to us he wants to get it done,” Haddad said. “I told the governor when we stopped that we have work to do, and we’ll do it.”
Abortion Opponents Question Push For New Laws
But abortion opponents are asking why. Massachusetts Citizens for Life Executive Director Patricia Stewart said the state already has laws to ensure everyone’s safety.
“My thought is enforce the laws that are there, see if there are problems that still arise that those laws do not address adequately and then take action to specifically address the issues that are identified as problems,” Stewart said.
And Stewart warns abortion opponents are ready to go back to court to fight any limits on their rights to speak to patients at clinics that perform abortions.
Advocates and lawmakers expect clinic protection legislation to surface next week.