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January 19, 2016

Philly lawmaker's bill aims to curb reproductive clinic harassment

Legislation imposes penalties for violence outside health centers

A Philadelphia lawmaker has introduced a bill that aims to reduce violence and harassment at health clinics that provide reproductive services.

The legislation comes after a recent shooting that left three dead at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic by a man who called himself "a warrior for the babies" in court.

Senate Bill 1105, introduced this month by Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Phila.), imposes penalties for those who threaten or injures those attending a clinic specifically for reproductive services, including birth control and abortion services.

Farnese is taking his second shot at passing this type of legislation after he introduced a similar bill in 2013 that would have created a buffer zone around state clinics.

The senator notes that he reworked the legislation after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar "buffer zone" law in Massachusetts in 2014 on the grounds it violated first amendment rights.

Under the proposed law, violators could face a number of penalties depending on their actions, including a two-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine for harassment without injury as well as a first-degree felony charge if serious bodily injury is incurred. 

“My new proposal makes it clear that people who try to intimidate or hurt women entering a reproductive health care clinic will be punished," Farnese said in a press release.

Farnese is hosting a Twitter town hall meeting Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. to discuss the legislation. The senator says the Women's Law Project (@WomensLawProj) is moderating and is encouraging those interested in participating to use the hashtag #ProtectTheZonePA.