A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Massachusetts was considering expanding the “buffer zones” outside of abortion clinics, to protect patients and staff from harassment by anti-choice protesters.
The Times reports that yesterday, the bill was passed, and it’s expected to be signed by the governor next week. The law requires that protesters stand at least 35 feet away from abortion-providing facilities.
The 35-foot rule is now the strictest state law in the U.S. It passed unanimously in the state Senate and with a vote of 122-to-28 in the House. How fucking cool (and utterly dumbfounding!) is that?
The bill was designed to replace an old law that said protesters could not come within 6 feet of people trying to enter the clinic, while they were within 18 feet of the clinic. It was a nobly-intended but confusing and incredibly difficult to enforce law. And shockingly enough, they fixed it.
As I covered last time, these types of laws existing at all is very rare. So Massachusetts was already ahead in that respect. But how often do lawmakers actually correct the problems caused by poorly-written or short-sighted laws? Not nearly often enough. In my book, that makes them doubly awesome.
And though anti-choicers claim that they will challenge the bill (and I don’t doubt that they will), the good news is that they challenged the previous law back in 2001, and the State Supreme Judicial Court declared the restriction perfectly Constitutional.
So thanks, all you seemingly-awesome MA lawmakers out there. Keep up the good work — you might almost make us forget that your state once elected Mitt Romney.