In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision striking down Massachusetts’ 35-foot buffer zone law, the City of San Francisco has become squishy about enforcing its buffer zone ordinance, ticking off Planned Parenthood in the process.
San Francisco’s ordinance, which bans abortion opponents from entering a 25-foot line of demarcation around abortion clinics, is “virtually identical” to Massachusetts’ now voided law, minus 10 feet.
Now, San Francisco pro-life activists are allegedly feeling their oats and defying the ordinance by crossing the line.
Meanwhile, city attorneys are rightfully worried that enforcing the ordinance will draw pro-life ire and a lawsuit.
So they’ve chosen instead to withstand pro-abortion ire by ignoring the pro-life provocateurs, which has resulted in a letter of complaint from Planned Parenthood. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, July 27:
Planned Parenthood executives say San Francisco police and the city attorney aren’t doing enough to protect patients and staff from “harassment and intimidation” at the organization’s health center on Valencia Street [pictured above right].
“Each week, as the harassment and intimidation escalate… the city’s ordinances are violated ever more flagrantly,” Planned Parenthood’s Bay Area chapter leader, Heather Saunders Estes,wrote in a July 22 letter to City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
And when center staffers call police, they are told that “there is nothing they can do,” Saunders Estes wrote….
The protesters now ignore San Francisco’s 25-foot buffer zone as they pass out literature, and film staffers and patients entering the building, clinic reps complain.
While other California cities “have come out in strong defense of their ordinances,” Saunders Estes told Herrera, “your office continues to dither.”
In response, Herrera said his office shares “some of the understandable bitterness and disappointment” over the Supreme Court ruling and is working with legal experts elsewhere to figure out how to respond.
The real fear, according to insiders, is that defending San Francisco’s 25-foot zone could invite a suit by antiabortion activists – which could leave the city on the hook for big legal expenses if they win.
Add San Francisco buffer zone ditherers to those in Portland, Maine, Burlington, Vermont, and Madison, Wisconsin, who have all stopped enforcing their ordinances.
Likewise, New Hampshire’s new 25-foot buffer zone law has been blocked in court.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts legislature is poised to pass a new buffer zone law, which the attorney for Eleanor McCullen, whose lawsuit against Massachusetts’ first buffer zone law prevailed before the Supreme Court, says is “more draconian” than the original and promises to challenge in court.
[Photos via SFGate.com]