Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SF "40 Days for Life" must be doing something right

...if the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering some kind of "bubble ordinance" to restrict the free speech rights of  pro-lifers. How weak is their case? Get this from today's SFAppeal (closing paragraphs):

"Ronald Konopaski, an anti-abortion activist, attended today's Board of Supervisors meeting and criticized the proposal.

Konopaski said he has been in front of the Planned Parenthood facility for nearly 40 days and has not seen any problems.

'The sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood is always peaceful,' he said. 'This is false, there's no harassment.'

But Beverly Upton, executive director of the Domestic Violence Consortium, said she has witnessed women harassed at a previous Planned Parenthood center in the city.

'It's a public safety issue,' she said."

That's it? Something happened some other time at a different location? Not much of a case.

SF Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders also weighed in today:

"So what does the ACLU think about Supe David Campos’ proposal to replace San Francisco’s 8-foot “bubble zone” around reproductive health clinics with a 25-foot buffer zone?

ACLU attorney Michael Rischer told me he’s not sure yet because he hasn’t seen it. When I called Campos’ office Monday, an aide told me that the supervisor doesn’t have a draft yet as it is awaiting review by the City Attorney’s office.

On the plus side, Rischer said, “It appears as though they are replacing an old bubble ordinance with a buffer ordinance. Those ordinances are very problematic and as a matter of policy the ACLU almost always opposes it.” The problem with the old law: 'It’s not enforceable most likely.'

Planned Parenthood’s Adrienne Verrilli had the same complaint."

Saunders then links to a video of a nice lady standing up (sitting down, actually) for life. Click on the link below to watch.

"By the way, here’s a video I found online showing one of the 'intimidating' anti-abortion activists.

The down side, from Rischer: 'Any law that restricts people’s right to speak freely in a public forum concerns us…. I don’t purport to know what the facts are here.' The ACLU supports both free-speech rights and the right of men and women to get health care and to get reproductive health care 'without suffering some sort of physical assault or intimidation.'

And: 'If it’s simply a few people out there that are causing real problems, our preference would be to address that much more narrowly.' In other words, if a few activists are misbehaving — and we’ve read about excesses in the pro-life community – let the city police clinics to prevent illegal behavior and let prosecutors go after any and all serious violators.

Besides, it’s already federal crime for anyone to injure, intimidate for interfer with women seeking reproductive health services. There’s a state law too.

And: 'When the board of supervisors, when the board of supervisors is considering this, that they will get the facts so that they can decide whether this is necessary.' I haven’t always agreed with Rischer, but we agree on this.

From what I’ve heard thus far, the folks in front of 1650 Valencia are exercising their free-speech rights. For my Tuesday column on San Francisco’s different standards on free speech, look here."

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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