San Francisco Supervisors Vote on Planned Parenthood “Buffer Zones”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today gave unanimous initial approval to legislation that will create a 25-foot buffer zone around entrances to reproductive health clinics in the city that are often targeted by anti-abortion activists.

The legislation, authored by Supervisor David Campos, alters existing city law that created an 8-foot "bubble" around patients entering or leaving the clinics, including a Planned Parenthood clinic on Valencia Street that has reported constant harassment from the activists.

The legislation will come in front of the board at its next meeting to be given final approval.

"The effort here is to strike the right balance between the right people have to express themselves and the right of the people to access health care including reproductive health, " said Supervisor David Campos in a previous interview. The new law is his idea.

The current law recognizes an eight-foot “bubble” around people within 100 feet of the facility, but protesters can get around that by standing in one spot. This law has been ineffective, Campos said, because demonstrators get around the law by staying in one spot and not approaching clinic visitors.

Campos wants the "buffer zones" to apply to the entrances, exits and driveways of the facilities. Hospitals would be excluded.

There is one Planned Parenthood in San Francisco at 1650 Valencia Street, and this spring, a handful of people from a group called "40 Days for Life" handed out pamphlets.

One woman, who only wanted to be identified as Maureen, said that talking to women just before they choose to possibly get an abortion is important.

"So many women are coerced into coming here and it's not something they want," she said in a previous interview. "Many times they will come back and bring the babies and say, 'Thank you for being here.  I really needed you to be here.' "

If it passes, violating the new ordinance could result in three months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

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