BOSTON, July 30 Massachusetts Governor Deval
Patrick on Wednesday signed into law a measure allowing to
police to order anti-abortion protesters away from clinic
entrances if their presence impedes public access.
The measure comes a month after the U.S. Supreme Court
knocked down a 2007 Massachusetts law prohibiting protests
within 35 feet (11 meters) of the entrances of reproductive
health facilities, a measure that the top court found violated
the right to freedom of speech.
"I am incredibly proud to sign legislation that continues
Massachusetts leadership in ensuring that women seeking to
access reproductive health facilities can do so safely and
without harassment," Patrick said after signing the measure.
The law will allow police to order protesters to move 25
feet (8 meters) away from clinic entrances for eight hours if
they block access. State officials, who drafted the bill quickly
after the Supreme Court decision, said the new approach was
modeled on similar laws elsewhere that had withstood legal
Anti-abortion activists had criticized the legislation,
saying it would have a chilling effect on speech.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Eric Walsh)