EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


October 11, 2012

Letter: Clinics need a buffer zone from protesters

To the editor:

Remembering the dangers and difficulties women encountered before Roe v. Wade, I am a passionate supporter of a woman’s right to choose. I don’t favor abortions; I simply acknowledge the reality that abortions will be performed, and believe the procedure should be as safe as possible for every potential patient. A woman’s right to choose a safe abortion is threatened in too many states, but I had thought that Massachusetts was not among them. The attacks have begun here in the guise of very disturbing legislation supported by state Rep. Jim Lyons.

The legislation, House Bill 2239, consists of one sentence. It would repeal our state law creating a 35-foot safety zone around facilities that provide abortions. This modest “buffer zone” protects women and staff from protesters who excessively harass patients and employees.

Unfortunately, experience has shown that when protesters have not been prevented from encroaching on access to these clinics, both patients and employees have been subject to physical attacks. Retaining the 35-foot buffer zone does not muzzle protesters; but eliminating it creates the real possibility that Massachusetts women will be subject to potentially dangerous confrontations.

It is alarming that Jim Lyons has made this bill a priority. That such legislation could attract any support in Massachusetts is a wake-up call. Lyons is the current representative of my district, but he does not represent the best interest of women.

Rebecca Backman


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