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ENSURING ACCESS/Clinic Protection Bills

There are two main types of state bills that have been introduced to protect abortion providers from harassment and violent threats.

State FACE Acts

The first main type of provider protection legislation is the state FACE Act, modeled after the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act - the 1994 law that imposes federal civil and criminal penalties on those who use or threaten force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with access to abortion clinics.

California and New York have passed state versions of the FACE Act, while other states have introduced similar bills. These laws supplement existing federal protections for providers, for example by granting state law enforcement the authority to enforce the FACE Act.

Bubble/Buffer Zone Bills

The second main type of state provider protection legislation is the bubble/buffer zone bill. This bill creates an area of protection around those entering and leaving reproductive health care facilities or a buffer zone of protection around the health care facility itself. These bills allow patients and providers to enter and leave clinics free from harassment and intimidation while preserving free speech rights.

Massachusetts and Colorado have passed bubble/buffer zone laws, while other states have introduced similar bills.

Other Bills

In addition, some other states have taken creative approaches to clinic protection legislation. In 2006 in Washington, Governor Gregoire signed a bill that prevents insurance companies from dropping policy holders who are the victims of crimes. The legislature found that this protection was necessary since "access to insurance can be imperiled by the response of insurers to criminal acts."

Two affirmative bills were also signed into law in California in 2006. The first bill extends the unique Reproductive Rights Law Enforcement Act, requiring the state to collect and analyze information on anti-reproductive rights crimes. The second bill prohibits, under specific circumstances, the online posting, sale, trade or solicitation of home addresses, phone numbers, and pictures of reproductive health care providers and their patients. These bills provide the state with essential tools in the fight against anti-choice violence and harassment.

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