Buffer Zone

“Buffer Zone” – House Bill 2239 “An Act Restoring Free Speech and Public Access”

House 2239 would repeal the law which forbids all individuals except abortion clinic personnel and their clients from entering for any purpose all designated areas located immediately in front of the entrances to any abortion facility in Massachusetts. These areas, thirty-five feet wide and extending to the street, are colloquially referred to as “buffer zones”.

The “Buffer Zone” bill should be passed and repeal the existing statue because:

  • The current statute violates the First Amendment’s “free speech guarantee”.Statute of Liberty
  • House 2239 creates no-speech zones in areas traditionally regarded as open to the public precisely for the purpose of free expression and assembly.
  • Individuals are prohibited from engaging in peaceful speech, including the distribution of leaflets, display of signs, consensual conversation and communication with others from a normal conversational distance.
  • Criminalizing the peaceful and non-obstructive use of the sidewalks is unnecessary, punitive and unfairly excessive.
  • Federal case law already requires individuals entering a designated zone outside the entrances of health facilities to gain the consent of other individuals before approaching closer than eight feet to counsel against abortion. This federal law does not prevent speakers from approaching any individual if consent is given or from standing in one spot within the zone to offer leaflets or to hold signs.
  • Massachusetts buffer zone statue interferes with the ability of willing listeners to receive helpful information in a public forum.

Women in Massachusetts are denied the right to crucial health information:

Current law in Massachusetts legalizes abortion for any reason at any stage of pregnancy. Abortion providers are not required by MA law to provide women with the medical, scientific and support information she may request. Pregnant women, often young and in crisis, rely on the abortion industry providers for information, those who have a vested interest in abortion. As long as women are denied the “Right to Know”, “Free Speech and Public Access” become even more crucial.

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference submitted testimony (pdf). All interested parties are encouraged to do the same.

Voice your Opinion:

  • Call, email, write or visit your State Representative and State Senator.
  • To determine who your elected officials are visit http://www.wheredoivotema.com or call at 617-722-2000.
  • Share your lobbying success with the Massachusetts Catholic Conference by calling 617-367-6060.