Flanked by lawmakers and supporters, Democratic New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill Tuesday that will create a 25-foot buffer zone around the five clinics that provide abortion services in the state.
Hassan had previously made clear her intention to sign the bill. The governor’s spokesperson told New Hampshire Public Radio that Hassan believes women should have the ability to access reproductive health-care services without fearing for their safety.
The new law is in response to more than 60 patient complaints filed since the beginning of 2013 by patients of Planned Parenthood in Manchester; the complaints often included reports of verbal harassment, intimidation, or passage-blocking by anti-choice protesters.
New Hampshire will join a growing number of states and municipalities that have passed restrictions on anti-choice protests at reproductive health-care clinics.
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New Hampshire is now the 17th state with legislation protecting patients entering reproductive health-care clinics, and only the fourth to require a specific distance for protesters; the cities of Madison, Wisconsin, and Englewood, New Jersey, also passed buffer zone policies this year.
The new law will take effect in 30 days.