The San Francisco Board of Supervisors may give more power to police to stop pro-life advocates who are trying to reach women outside city abortion facilities.
The city used to have a 25-foot buffer zone that prevented pro-life free speech outside abortion facilities, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against buffer zones stopped the city from enforcing it.
Now, city lawmakers are trying a new measure that could hinder the efforts of pro-life sidewalk counselors and protesters outside a city Planned Parenthood.
The San Francisco Examiner reports Supervisor Hillary Ronen proposed an amendment to the City Police Code that would allow officers to order pro-lifers to leave the area after a verbal warning.
Currently, police must provide a written warning about harassment before ordering protesters to disburse, according to the report.
Here’s more from the report:
The requirement to issue written warnings prevents officers from taking immediate enforcement actions in cases in which clients report harassment, and is also unique to police guidelines governing enforcement at abortion clinics.
“Usually in other First Amendment activities, say you have a climate protest, if these folks are blocking the street or chained together at Fourth or Market streets, a verbal warning is enough to issue a dispersal order. And if the order is not followed there can be an arrest,” said Ingleside Police Station Captain Jack Hart. “This particular section has an added requirement that a written notice is needed.”
According to Ronen, this requirement is “slowing [police] down.”
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The board is slated to vote on the amendment Sept. 18.
Pro-abortion lawmakers and the abortion industry have been trying to stop peaceful pro-life sidewalk counselors and protesters from reaching out to women for years. In 2014, however, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an important free speech victory for pro-lifers when it struck down a 35-foot buffer zone in Massachusetts.
Cities and states already have anti-harassment laws to prosecute protesters who engage in illegal activity. The extra laws and ordinances that pro-abortion politicians try to add around abortion facilities merely target pro-life free speech and the valuable information sidewalk counselors provide to patients before going inside.
Pro-life sidewalk counselors are overwhelmingly peaceful. They stand outside abortion facilities to pray and offer women information about alternatives to abortion. Pro-life groups like Sidewalk Counselors for Life and 40 Days for Life teach peaceful, compassionate outreach through their programs.