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Reactions to Massachusetts Abortion Protest Law - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Reactions to Massachusetts Abortion Protest Law

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 The Supreme Court threw out a Massachusetts law that created no-protest "buffer zones" on public property surrounding health clinics that perform abortions.

Massachusetts officials said the issue was more about public safety and pedestrian access on local sidewalks.

Abortion opponents countered that their first amendment rights were being violated. While North Dakota does not have buffer laws in place it's a still a hot topic in the state. Especially among abortion protestors in Fargo.

"I have seen patients crying, who are scared, who are trying to hang onto my as tightly as they can cause they are scared of the people who are yelling at them," says Caitlin O’Connell, an escort at the Red River Women’s Clinic.

Protests are frequent at the Red River Women's Clinic, and currently protesters can be as close as they choose.

"Knowledge is power, information gives you the ability to make an informed decision, you don't want to regret a decision like that," says John Trandem, ND Right to Life Chairman.

"We would dream of having a buffer zone law here in North Dakota, but I absolutely don't think that would be in the cards here in North Dakota," says O’Connell.

They are not currently looking at getting buffer laws.

"At this point we are just trying to keep out doors open," says Tammi Kromenaker, Red River Women’s Clinic Director.

"I don't think anyone has violence in mind, but you are always going to have a couple of loose nuts in any scenario, and that's not just in the pro-life movement, that's to be sure," says Trandem.

There is history of violence in North Dakota. "Women were being threatened, and harassed, such to the point that the federal government needed to step in," says Kromenaker.

20 years ago a federal law passed. A law that says protesters cannot block the entrance to the clinic.

"Yell and scream at people if they want to, sure, they sure absolutely can, we just want them to stay a little further away from people because they scare people," says O’Connell.

O'Connell doesn't want to see history repeat itself. She's disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling about buffer laws, others disagree.

"If a person wants to talk to someone on a public sidewalk, I expect they have the right to do that," says Trandem.

While the laws are not on the table for North Dakota, one thing's for sure, the ruling stirred up a debate.

The Supreme Court did not strike down all protest zone laws in Massachusetts. Instead the ruling gives room for the state to go back and craft new, less restrictive protest zones.
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