State Senate Passes Bill That Would Authorize Jail Time for Blocking Access to Abortion Clinics
The California Senate on Wednesday voted 26-12 to approve a bill (SB 780) by state Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) that would authorize jail sentences of up to one year for protesters who block abortion clinics, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Under the bill, people who use "force, the threat of force or physical obstruction to, or attempt to, injure, intimidate or interfere with someone because that person is a reproductive health clinic client, provider or assistant," or anyone who damages the property of a clinic client, provider or assistant could be subject to imprisonment. Nonviolent conduct could result in a jail sentence of up to six months, while violent offenses might increase the sentence to one year. The legislation would also impose maximum fines ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. The legislation is a state version of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which imposes up to three years' imprisonment. Bill supporters said that state penalties are needed because local police officers typically called on in such situations are unable to make arrests under federal law. Bill opponent Sen. Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno) said that the measure would implement "very severe" penalties intended to "silence" abortion opponents (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/6).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.