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MA governor signs abortion buffer zone bill

[JURIST] Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick [official website] signed a bill [Bill S.2281; text] Wednesday tightening security regulations to protect clients and patients at abortion clinics from abusive protests and demonstrations. The Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities was proposed in reaction to the Supreme Court's recent ruling [JURIST report] that the state's prior 35-foot "buffer zone" law was unconstitutional. The new bill prohibits protesters from impeding access to reproductive health facilities or using force or physical threats against those seeking to enter or depart from such a facility. Demonstrators in violation of these regulations will be dispersed and banned from coming within 25 feet of the facility for 8 hours, or until the facility closes.

Reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] and abortion [JURIST news archive] remain highly contested issues across the US. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] earlier this month to overturn a Mississippi state law that would have closed the only abortion clinic in the state. In June Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal [official website] signed into law [JURIST report] bills requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges and banning the providing of information or materials on abortion in state-funded schools. Earlier in June the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] continued to block [JURIST report] Arizona's strict new abortion law from going into effect until the lawsuit challenging it can be resolved.

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