Sacramento County Supervisors Propose Measure To Create No-Protest Zone Around Reproductive Health Clinics
Three Sacramento County supervisors on Monday proposed an ordinance that would create a 20-foot no-protest zone around reproductive health clinics in the county, the Sacramento Bee reports (Korber, Sacramento Bee, 12/2). Supervisor Roger Dickinson, who is leading the effort with Illa Collin and Muriel Johnson, said that the ordinance would decrease the physical and emotional stress that many female patients endure by preventing protesters from obstructing their access to the clinics. The proposed law follows a July court order in which Superior Court Judge James Long established a 20-foot "speech-free" zone around the Women's Health Specialists clinic in Arden after abortion-rights advocates said in court that protesters were hindering women's access to the clinics. San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose have approved similar ordinances. Under Sacramento's proposed ordinance, if protesters crossed the buffer zone, they would be charged with a misdemeanor, although Dickinson said that he expects protesters to obey the law and that sheriff deputies would be called only in "extreme instances," the Bee reports (Jahn, Sacramento Bee, 12/1). A hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday.
Shauna Heckert, executive director of Women's Health Specialists, said that the ordinance would "affect anyone who offers or seeks reproductive services" in Sacramento County, adding, "It will protect individual doctors as well as clinics." However, Cyrus Zal, former general counsel for Operation Rescue, a group that opposes abortion rights, said, "I can't believe that the Board of Supervisors is taking sides in this issues. ... They are buying a whole lot of legal trouble for themselves." Zal said that he would take legal action if the ordinance is passed. Collin said, "Yes, there could be legal challenges here, but I think we're on pretty solid ground. We're not saying that they can't protest, period. They just can't protest within a few feet of the entrance" (Sacramento Bee, 12/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.