Massachusetts Legislature Considers Bill Limiting Protestors at Abortion Clinics
The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill that would prevent protestors from entering a 35-foot zone around abortion clinics. The bill would strengthen a 2000 law that created an 18-foot zone in which protestors had to remain at least six feet away from all staff and patients unless they obtained permission to move closer.
The existing measure was a compromise with the House Speaker at the time, an abortion opponent. Police say it was not easily enforceable. "It hasn't been a real buffer zone," Captain William Evans, assigned for nine years to the area around Planned Parenthood's Boston clinic, said in the Boston Globe. "The law hasn't stopped protestors from going inside the zone. All they have to do is freeze. They can't get into people's faces, but the patients have to go around them to get in."
Governor Deval Patrick (D) is expected to sign the toughened bill if it passes the legislature, which appears likely. Mary Beth Heffernan, the governor's undersecretary of public safety, told the Globe, "This would provide essential protection for patients and medical personnel outside of these clinics."
The Feminist Majority Foundation was instrumental in initiating Madsen v. Women's Health Center Inc., a 1994 Supreme Court case that established the legality of buffer zones around women's health clinics. Through its National Clinic Access Project - the nation's largest and oldest clinic defense network - the Feminist Majority Foundation continues to support and protect clinic access.
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires colleges to eliminate gender-based discrimination.
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .