Local Updates from ABC News Radio for New Bedford.


Gov. Patrick Signs Bill to Protect Patients' Access to Abortion Clinics 

(BOSTON) -- Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill Wednesday ensuring safe access for patients at women's health facilities.

The legislation, “An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities," bars protesters who are preventing access to a clinic. Individuals subject to the order are unable to stand within 25 feet of the clinic entrance for an 8-hour period.

"I am incredibly proud to sign legislation that continues Massachusetts leadership in ensuring that women seeking to access reproductive health facilities can do so safely and without harassment, and that the employees of those facilities can arrive at work each day without fear of harm," Patrick said.

The bill follows a recent Supreme Court decision that struck down Massachusetts' call for a 35-foot area protest-free "buffer zone" around the entrances of women's clinics.

The bill balances the right to free speech with the rights of those seeking access to reproductive health facilities, Patrick adds.

Legislation prohibits impeding a vehicle trying to access or leave clinic parking lots and also bans the use of force or the threat of force toward people attempting to leave health centers. Individuals affected can seek compensation for damages.

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Fall River Teen Injured in Shooting 

(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) -- New Bedford Police are investigating a shooting incident that wounded a Fall River teen on Wednesday.

Police arrived at St. Luke's Hospital around 1:30 a.m. in response to a 17-year-old with a gunshot wound above his right knee.

The teen told officers he was walking in the area of Bolton and Katherine Streets when he was approached by a man who shot him in leg for an unknown reason.  

The victim flagged down a driver at the intersection of Rivet and Orchard Streets and received a ride to the hospital.

The suspect is described as 5'11", wearing a black ski-mask and black Champion sweatshirt.

Police were unable to establish an actual crime scene, and later learned the teen had several outstanding warrants and is a reported runaway from the custody of the Department of Children & Families.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact law enforcement at 508-991-6300 ext. 320.

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Man in Critical Condition After Being Struck by Vehicle in Wareham

(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) -- A man was hospitalized in critical condition Monday night after he was struck by a car while trying to cross Cranberry Highway in Wareham.

Officers responded to a report of a drunk man causing a disturbance at the Buttermilk Bay Inn at about 10:30 p.m. when they were told that the man had been struck by a vehicle. After arriving at the scene, officers determined the man had sustained severe injuries, the Standard-Times reports.

The victim was taken to Tobey Hospital in Wareham before being transferred to Rhode Island Hospital.

The driver remained at the scene and was cooperative with police, the Standard-Times said. The incident is still under investigation.

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Absentee Ballots for State Primary Election Available at City Hall

(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) -- The New Bedford Elections Commission announced on Monday that absentee ballots for the state primary election are available at the New Bedford City Hall.

Any registered voter will be able to vote by absentee ballot or request an absentee ballot application be sent to their home address between Monday and Sept. 8.

The election will include races for Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General, and Representative to Congress among other open seats.

Voters must register to vote in the state primary by Aug. 20.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Gov. Patrick Signs Legislation Banning Possession of Shark Fins

(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) -- Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation on Thursday banning the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.

In a statement, Patrick said that the legislation allows the commonwealth to continue "its long history of animal protection and environmental stewardship."

The legislation does allow for the possession and sale of fins from a handful of locally caught species of shark, including the skate shark, the smooth hound shark and the spiny dogfish. Licenses can also still be issued to possess shark fins for scientific research.

Still, fines for unlicensed possession would result in a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to 60 days and possible suspension or revocation of fishing licenses.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio