The Mercury News Weekend
Loudspeakers will be banned outside Planned Parenthood clinics in 30 days
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.”