EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

July 4, 2014

Rulings highlight differences in Mass. GOP

BOSTON (AP) — Two recent Supreme Court rulings — including the decision invalidating Massachusetts’ 35-foot “buffer zone” around abortion clinic entrances — are highlighting differences between the Republican candidates for governor.

Charlie Baker, the party’s endorsed gubernatorial candidate, said through a spokesman that he “cares deeply about both ensuring women can safely access health care facilities and protecting freedom of speech.”

Baker’s campaign also noted his choice for running mate, Karyn Polito, voted for the buffer zone as a state representative and that Baker hopes “all interested parties will work together in quickly crafting new legislation that legally protects everyone’s rights.”

Baker’s tea party rival Mark Fisher had a more enthusiastic response, calling the ruling “wonderful news” and saying the majority of women who have had abortions feel they had no choice and were pressured by their family, boyfriend or husband.

“This ruling means that women will have a better chance to receive the information they need to make informed decisions,” said Fisher, who made no reference to public safety concerns. “This decision should be hailed by both pro-life and truly pro-choice groups.”

Critics of buffer zones say they makes it harder for anti-abortion activists to counsel women against having an abortion while supporters of the zone say they help protect women against unwanted harassment and intimidation.

The two candidates also differed on another ruling that found some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Fisher enthusiastically backed the decision, calling it another blow “to the Obama administration’s attempts to remake the U.S. Constitution into a tool to be used against its citizens.”

“By upholding our First Amendment right to the freedom of religion this ruling has given hope to common citizens that no one, not even the president of the United States is above the law,” Fisher said.

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