Scott Brown’s Buffer(in) Zone

Following his vote last month to pass the Blunt amendment, which would have made women’s health insurance coverage subject to their insurers’ ideas of morality (a losing effort in the end), Scott Brown has been trying to make it up to our gender. He’s endorsing the policy that allows us to serve in combat roles in the military. He’s supporting the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (also a losing effort so far). He’s praising our aptitude for the domestic arts — we cook, we clean, we sew!

There’s one subject he could raise that might help bridge this gender gap, but so far he seems unwilling to discuss it. When he was a state legislator, he was a strong supporter of legislation to establish buffer zones at women’s health clinics. Like the Blunt amendment, the buffer zone issue also involved the First Amendment rights of abortion and contraception opponents, pitting those rights against the rights of women to have access to health clinics without interference or intimidation. Brown not only voted to establish the buffer zones at clinics in the state. He felt so strongly about the issue that he joined 81 other Representatives, making a majority of the 160-member House, in signing a letter that persuaded (or rather, forced) Speaker Tom Finneran, an abortion opponent, to bring the measure to the House floor for a vote. Seven years later, as a State Senator, Brown voted in favor of legislation to increase the size of the buffer zones from 18 to 35 feet.

An ideal issue to prompt a thoughtful discussion by Senator Brown that would demonstrate his independence and moderation on issues of women’s health? Apparently not, particularly when some members of today’s Massachusetts GOP want to repeal the buffer zone law altogether. Maybe someone in the press will inquire, but for now, Brown’s silence suggests that his past position on this issue can only be a present-day headache.

Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group.

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