In the Inland Empire, Fontana is the latest California city to block a Planned Parenthood clinic, saying it’s studying putting an entertainment hub there.

The war over abortion is raging in statehouses around the country, but in California, a bastion of reproductive rights, the fight has shifted to local battlegrounds.

In the Inland Empire region, Planned Parenthood is suing the city of Fontana, alleging its officials are illegally blocking its plans for a new clinic.

The health organization’s leaders said Fontana is rejecting the clinic for religious and political reasons while hiding those intentions behind zoning restrictions. Planned Parenthood accused the mayor and city council of trying an end around of California’s abortion rights laws in an effort to appease local abortion opponents….

Last year a specialized clinic in Beverly Hills that would have provided abortions in a woman’s third term of pregnancy to treat serious health complications lost its lease amid anti-abortion protests. And in 2022 a proposed Planned Parenthood clinic in Visalia, in the San Joaquin Valley, was postponed indefinitely amid opposition….

Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties signed a lease in 2022 to open a new clinic in a commercial area of Fontana’s downtown and spent a year completing permit applications and revising design standards for the space. For instance, the lawsuit says, the city planning director insisted the clinic should have a trellis with a mosaic pattern, embellished with vines.

Planned Parenthood officials said they were on track for approval of the facility last year but began seeing hostility toward the proposed clinic, as some residents condemned plans for abortion services.

“Members of the City Council repeatedly heard inflammatory arguments — even at City meetings where the Fontana clinic was not intended to be discussed — by anti-abortion advocates seeking to deprive women of essential healthcare,” the lawsuit states.

The city council appeared to invite that opposition, the lawsuit charges, pointing to a June meeting at which the invited chaplain delivered an invocation denouncing abortion.

Planned Parenthood filed its final permit application last July, officials said. But a week later the council approved an “urgency ordinance” prohibiting “service based, non-entertainment uses” in the area of the proposed clinic. The moratorium remains in place until later this July but could be extended, the city’s April statement said….

City Hall after city officials denied the opening of a new clinic. May 14, 2024.
Fontana officials said they launched a study in 2021 with the goal of establishing a downtown commercial entertainment district, which led to the development moratorium. They didn’t say when the study would be completed.

“The ordinance is neither illegal nor targeted toward blocking the construction of a Planned Parenthood health center,” the city stated. “Rather, it is part of a broader, thoughtful community planning effort to promote economic development throughout the city and contribute towards the revitalization of downtown Fontana.”

From Cal Matters