Yesterday: the hearings at the State House on the proposed new Buffer Zone, the Judiciary committee reported it out favorably, and the Senate passed it!
For the first four hours we heard:
Places that do abortions are "health centers."
"Reproductive rights" are a primary constitutional right.
All pro-lifers are violent and threatening.
The lovely counselors who spoke are aberrations.
Planned Parenthood employs a huge number of people in the state who all drone on about their abuse by pro-lifers. No legislator picked up on the pro-lifers' demands for pictures or videos of the alleged incidents.
When the pro-lifers had a chance to speak:
Eleanor McCullen - and all the counselors who were there - did an outstanding job, explaining that it would be counter-productive for her to behave badly. Other impressive counselors were on Bill Cotter's panel. Rod Murphy, Nancy Clark, and Lee Crowley all from Worcester, Jean Healey, and Eric Anthony all spoke eloquently about counseling. Faith Tendo also came from Worcester to tell about her experience being helped by Problem Pregnancy. Maureen Vacca and Rita Russo testified.
Phil Moran, the local lawyer for the McCullen win, compared the new zone to the penalty box where the counselors would always be. State Representatives Jim Lyons and Marc Lombardo spoke. Jim pointed out that these same people say "The Supreme court has spoken" about Roe v Wade. Now they have no use for the Court. Marc stated that this proposed law is so outrageous that it will definitely be appealed and cited the costs in time and money that will be associated with the appeal - the McCullen case has already cost many millions.
Pat Stewart, MCFL Executive Director, gave impressive testimony citing 20 actual laws that already cover blockading, harassing, etc.
Committee Members Keiko Orrall and Sheila Harrington asked excellent questions. They and Colleen Garry were the only committee members who voted against sending the proposed legislation to the Senate.
As fast as they can get it through the House and signed, Massachusetts will have a law which is worse than the old Buffer Zone. It effectively creates a 25-foot zone and the penalties are scary - $50,000 and three years in jail. The legislature is in the process of disrespecting the Supreme Court and penalizing law-abiding citizens. I do think all the other places that have suspended their Buffer Zones will pass laws like this one. At least Massachusetts will have company in its foolishness.
Thank goodness I got to go to our Summer Academy afterwards (more in another email). The wonderful speakers and students restored me.
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