WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud is asking for increased enforcement of a federal law meant to ensure safe access to women's health clinics, following a recent Supreme Court decision striking down a buffer zone in Massachusetts and the ensuing decision by the Portland City Council to repeal a buffer zone at the city's Planned Parenthood clinic. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Michaud called on Holder to increase Department of Justice (DOJ) efforts related to the enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a crime for individuals to use force or physical obstruction to prevent others from providing or obtaining reproductive health services.
"No one should ever face obstruction, intimidation or shame just for seeking out healthcare services," said Michaud. "I remain concerned that the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a buffer zone outside of a healthcare clinic sets a dangerous precedent -- as we have already seen first-hand in Portland. Without action, I am deeply worried that women again will face significant barriers to obtaining the healthcare they deserve."
The FACE Act passed Congress in 1993 following a string of violent and deadly attacks on reproductive health clinics across the country, and enjoys bipartisan support. In addition to greater enforcement of FACE, Michaud also is calling on Holder to step up DOJ training for local law enforcement, FBI agents, local U.S. Marshals, U.S. attorneys, and clinic staff on methods to prevent clinic violence.
In addition to taking steps to secure safe access to health clinics, Michaud is working to counter other assaults on women's access to healthcare -- he is a co-sponsor of legislation that would effectively overturn the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling. Republicans in the House and the Senate have blocked progress on the legislation in both chambers this week.
"Between the McCullen and Hobby Lobby decisions, there is no doubt that there is an ongoing threat to women obtaining safe, affordable healthcare," said Michaud. "I will continue my efforts to ensure women can access basic healthcare services safely and affordably."
Rep. Michaud's letter to Attorney General Holder is available here.