Boston cardinal chides new Massachusetts buffer zone law

Cardinal Sean O'Malley speaks with CNA in Rome on Feb. 4, 2013. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston has criticized a new Massachusetts law re-establishing buffer zones around abortion clinics after the old law was recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In an Aug. 1 statement, the cardinal lamented that “the effect again is to make it very difficult for citizens seeking to offer alternatives to women contemplating an abortion.”

The law would forbid anyone from “substantially impeding” access to an abortion clinic. If this occurred, police could issue a dispersal order and place the protesters 25 feet away from the entrance or driveway at the building.

After the old “buffer zone” law forbade sidewalk counseling within 35 feet of an abortion clinic, the Supreme Court on June 26 ruled it a violation of the First Amendment. The law imposed “serious burdens” on the counselors, the court wrote, adding that sidewalks have traditionally been a forum for “the exchange of ideas.”

However, the new law establishes yet another buffer zone after the court unanimously struck down the old one, Cardinal O'Malley said.

“The Massachusetts legislature acted with unseemly haste to establish what amounts to a new buffer zone of 25 feet,” he stated.

The new law has “potential” to be worse than the old one because it leaves room for broad interpretation of “vague” language, said the pro-life group Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

“There's a serious problem with it because we don't know how the police will enforce it,” the group's president Anne Fox told CNA.

“The way it's written, if they (the clinic) opened at 8 every morning, they could call the police at five past eight every morning and say there’s somebody here detaining people. And the police would come and put everybody outside for the rest of the day.”

A sidewalk counselor distributing pro-life literature to a clinic-goer, for instance, could be interpreted by police as “detaining” that person, and the two of them together on the sidewalk could be termed a “gathering,” both being illegal acts under the new law. The result could be a dispersal order and a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail.

“And the penalties are incredible,” Fox said. “These are so disproportionate.”

“The whole thing just reeks of just out to get the pro-lifers,” she added.


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Iowa and us in a Year of Mercy

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Events

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February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.

     

    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.

     

    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  

     

    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

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