On Sunday July 27, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on complaints from the proprietors of San Francisco’s largest abortion business. The Chronicle’s article “Planned Parenthood gripes about S.F. Protestors” covered the latest fallout from the Supreme Court’s McCullen v. Coakley ruling, which defended the First Amendment rights of pro-life activists. The article began:
“Planned Parenthood executives say San Francisco police and the city attorney aren’t doing enough to protect patients and staff from ‘harassment and intimidation’ at the organization’s health center on Valencia Street.
‘Each week, as the harassment and intimidation escalate … the city’s ordinances are violated ever more flagrantly,’ Planned Parenthood’s Bay Area chapter leader, Heather Saunders Estes, wrote in a July 22 letter to City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
And when center staffers call police, they are told that ‘there is nothing they can do,’ Saunders Estes wrote.
The latest protest rift was brought on by last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Massachusetts’ 35-foot no-protest zone around clinics.
The protesters now ignore San Francisco’s 25-foot buffer zone as they pass out literature and film staffers and patients entering the building, clinic reps complain.
While other California cities ‘have come out in strong defense of their ordinances,’ Saunders Estes told Herrera, ‘your office continues to dither.’
In response, Herrera said his office shares ‘some of the understandable bitterness and disappointment’ over the Supreme Court ruling and is working with legal experts elsewhere to figure out how to respond.
The real fear, according to insiders, is that defending San Francisco’s 25-foot zone could invite a suit by antiabortion activists – which could leave the city on the hook for big legal expenses if they win.”
The Chronicle also reported that San Francisco’s Supervisor David Campos is weighing in. Campos made national news in January on another free speech issue: he introduced a resolution opposing banners carrying the Abortion Hurts Women message of the Walk for Life West Coast. The banners were hung along Market Street in preparation for the walk. Although Campos’ resolution passed, it was opposed by editorials in both the liberal San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco’s ABC affiliate, KGO TV.
The Chronicle wrote that “Supervisor and Assembly candidate David Campos – who showed up at the clinic Thursday to see the situation firsthand – said police are awaiting a city ‘policy decision on how to proceed.’
‘I hope we stick as close to the (existing) ordinance as possible, because I think the only way to protect women’s access to the clinic is to continue to enforce a buffer zone,” Campos said. ‘Even if there are legal risks involved.’”
An obvious point was made in the comments section to the article: that if harassment really was occurring, it would not be difficult to prove. One commenter wrote: “Get the cameras rolling. As soon as one of them commits obvious battery, show it to the da/cops. If they STILL drag ass, make a citizen’s arrest.”
To which another commenter responded: “Trust me, they are. The cameras are rolling constantly, by both sides, at abortion clinics. The fact that you aren’t seeing damning videos posted, by either side, shows that whoever is crying to the press is waging a less-than-truthful PR campaign.”