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  • Acts
  • 2000
  • Chapter 217 AN ACT RELATIVE TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE FACILITIES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. The purpose of this act is to:-

(a) increase the public safety in and around reproductive health care facilities;

(b) maintain the flow of traffic and prevent congestion around reproductive health care facilities;

(c) enact reasonable time, place and manner restrictions to reconcile and protect both the first amendment rights of persons to express their views, assemble and pray near reproductive health care facilities and the rights of persons seeking access to such facilities to be free from hindrance, harassment, intimidation and harm; and

(d) create an environment in and around reproductive health care facilities which is conducive to safe and effective medical services, including surgical procedures, for patients.

SECTION 2. Chapter 266 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 120E the following section:-

Section 120E½. (a) For the purposes of this section, "reproductive health care facility" means a place, other than within a hospital, where abortions are offered or performed.

(b) No person shall knowingly approach another person or occupied motor vehicle within six feet of such person or vehicle, unless such other person or occupant of the vehicle consents, for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education or counseling with such other person in the public way or sidewalk area within a radius of 18 feet from any entrance door or driveway to a reproductive health care facility or within the area within a rectangle not greater than six feet in width created by extending the outside boundaries of any entrance door or driveway to a reproductive health care facility at a right angle and in straight lines to the point where such lines intersect the sideline of the street in front of such entrance door or driveway. This subsection shall not apply to the following:-

(1) persons entering or leaving such facility;

(2) employees or agents of such facility acting within the scope of their employment;

(3) law enforcement, ambulance, firefighting, construction, utilities, public works and other municipal agents acting within the scope of their employment; and

(4) persons using the public sidewalk or street right-of-way adjacent to such facility solely for the purpose of reaching a destination other than such facility.

(c) The provisions of subsection (b) shall only take effect during a facility's business hours and if the area contained within the radius and rectangle described in said subsection (b) is clearly marked and posted.

(d) Whoever knowingly violates this section shall be punished, for the first offense, by a fine of not more than $500 or not more than three months in a jail or house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and for each subsequent offense, by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $5,000 or not more than two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction, or both such fine and imprisonment. A person who knowingly violates this section may be arrested without a warrant by a sheriff, deputy sheriff or police officer if that sheriff, deputy sheriff, or police officer observes that person violating this section.

(e) Any person who knowingly obstructs, detains, hinders, impedes or blocks another person's entry to or exit from a reproductive health care facility shall be punished, for the first offense, by a fine of not more than $500 or not more than three months in a jail or house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and for each subsequent offense, by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000 or not more than two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment. A person who knowingly violates this provision may be arrested without a warrant by a sheriff, deputy sheriff or police officer.

(f) A reproductive health care facility or a person whose rights to provide or obtain reproductive health care services have been violated or interfered with by a violation of this section or any person whose rights to express their views, assemble or pray near a reproductive health care facility have been violated or interfered with may commence a civil action for equitable relief. The civil action shall be commenced either in the superior court for the county in which the conduct complained of occurred, or in the superior court for the county in which any person or entity complained of resides or has a principal place of business.

Approved August 10, 2000.