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City of Sacramento proposes noise violation ordinance after protesters target Planned Parenthood facilities


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    SACRAMENTO (KOVR) — A Sacramento urgency ordinance is aimed at protests outside Planned Parenthood in the city.

The city is now proposing quiet zones outside that facility, and all healthcare facilities across Sacramento, to prevent patient harassment.

Councilmember Katie Valenzuela is a supporter of the change and says it would restrict protesters from using amplified sounds, like megaphones, within 100 feet of a healthcare facility.

The new quiet zone proposal is in direct response to protests at the B Street Planned Parenthood facility.

“They have volunteers who will escort patients to and from the clinic, just expressing their just real heartbreak, at you know, people getting yelled at, through amplified sound machines,” Valenzuela said.

Video from 2017 shows abortion protesters outside the Planned Parenthood facility.

The city’s proposed 100-foot quiet zones ordinance is intended “to prevent obstruction, harassment, or intimidation of persons entering and exiting health care facilities.’

Attorney Jeff Kravitz is a constitutional law expert and says restrictions on free speech are allowed, in some cases, if the restrictions are written in a way not meant to restrict viewpoints.

“The issue is that the sidewalks are generally considered a public forum where people can protest,” Kravitz said. “The Supreme Court has said that you can place what are called time, place, and manner restrictions on speech, and many of them are written in a way about the volume of noise or if you’re using amplified sound, the times you are doing it, and so forth.”

It’s a new frontier in the continued battle between abortion rights advocates and opponents.

“It’s my understanding that we’re actually the first ones to tackle this specific issue,” Valenzuela said.

The proposal goes before the Law and Legislation committee Tuesday and then immediately to the full city council also Tuesday. If approved, a violation could result in an arrest and a fine.

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