Massachusetts Senate OKs bill to protect abortion providers and patients

The Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill which would expand the buffer zone around health clinics that provide abortions. Massachusetts law currently prohibits demonstrators within 18 feet of the clinic. The new bill, SB 1352, sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler, would require demonstrators to stay at least 35 feet from the clinic’s property. The bill now moves to the House, where it has the support of the Speaker and at least 75 of the representatives. Governor Deval Patrick has also expressed his support for the bill. Fifteen other states have laws that protect facilities which provide abortions. For more information, see CPA’s Health Clinic Protection policy brief and model legislation. [Boston GlobeBoston Herald]

Massachusetts will divest from Sudan

Governor Deval Patrick has signed a bill which will divest Massachusetts’s pension funds from companies that do business with the government of Sudan. S2255 was sponsored by Rep. Jay Kaufman, Sen. Harriette Chandler, and Sen. Edward Augustus and targets only those companies which are considered the worst offenders of enabling the Sudanese government’s continuing genocide in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, and millions displaced in the Darfur region. Massachusetts is the twenty-first state to divest from Sudan. Michigan’s legislature is still considering a similar bill. For more information, see CPA’s Divestment to Support Human Rights In Sudan policy brief and model legislation. [Boston Globe]