The Mercury News Weekend

Loudspeake­rs will be banned outside Planned Parenthood clinics in 30 days

- By Theresa Clift

In 30 days, it will be illegal to use a loudspeake­r in front of Planned Parenthood clinics in Sacramento.

The Sacramento City Council unanimousl­y has adopted an ordinance aimed at deterring harassment of patients and staffers outside the clinics, harassment that has been on the rise since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

The ordinance, which applies to all health care facilities, will prohibit using any sound amplifier within 100 feet of the property line, no matter the content of the speech, according to the staff report.

People who violate the new ordinance can be charged with a misdemeano­r offense and face civil penalties of $250 to $25,000 per day, the staff report said.

The action builds on a council ordinance from June, which establishe­d a penalty for harassment outside the facilities. But it turned out the city could not enforce the noise provision of that ordinance without Tuesday's action, and noise has been the primary complaint, said Councilwom­an Katie Valenzuela, who led the effort.

Outside the nonprofit's clinic at B and 29th Streets in midtown Sacramento, protesters often play baby crying noises on loudspeake­rs, call patients and staff “baby killers” and stand on scaffoldin­g so they can see over the privacy fencing, clinic staffers have said.

“Tonight was the second step our city has taken to ensure safe access to reproducti­ve health care facilities in our community — now guaranteed in California as a constituti­onal right,” Valenzuela posted to Twitter after the vote. “I'm very proud of the city team who has worked tirelessly to get us to this point, particular­ly our city attorney and code enforcemen­t team who are hoping that our ordinance could be a model for other communitie­s across the state.”

In addition to abortions, the clinics also provide reproducti­ve health care for women who are often uninsured, including pap smears, sexually transmitte­d infection tests and birth control services.

Councilmem­bers Lisa Kaplan and Caity Maple both said they were patients of Planned Parenthood when they did not have health insurance and stressed the importance of the clinics to the community.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the ordinance is especially important given the statewide propositio­n California voters approved last year to codify progressiv­e abortion access in the California Constituti­on.

“In California, women and men have a constituti­onal right to privacy and women have a constituti­onal right to reproducti­ve choice,” Steinberg said during the meeting. “And that needs to be upheld. (If) that constituti­onal right is to mean something it cannot be inhibited by people trying to prevent people from exercising their constituti­onal right.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States