News Abortion

San Francisco Plans Buffer Zone to Combat Antis Who Swear They Aren’t Harassing Anyone

Robin Marty

Anti-choice activists say a buffer is unnecessary. What they don't mention is that they were protesting the Planned Parenthood even before it offered abortions.

San Francisco only has one Planned Parenthood clinic in the city, but the activities in front of it are becoming bothersome to the point where the city council will now consider changing an eight-foot bubble for clients into a 25-foot buffer zone around the clinic’s entrance. The expansion is necessary to combat anti-choice harassment, as abortion opponents have been photographing staff and intimidating clients, even if they aren’t sure if the person is seeking an abortion in the first place.

Via the San Francisco Gate:

“Our clients were coming in crying,” said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Adrienne Verrilli, who added that abortions account for less than 2 percent of patient visits. “We don’t want to get to the point where someone gets hurt.”

Planned Parenthood says the problem has escalated recently as some protesters have entered the waiting room. The staff called police last month when a protester walked in, woke up a woman sleeping in a chair, and told her to give up her baby for adoption instead of aborting it, despite not knowing why the patient was visiting.

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A handful of protesters, and as many as 20, gather on weekdays outside Planned Parenthood. On a recent afternoon, Ron Konopaski and five other abortion opponents stood on the sidewalk in front of the clinic, clutching rosary beads near posters of fetuses and the Virgin Mary, and signs reading “Women do regret abortion.”

“I think it’s stupid,” said Konopaski, a 79-year-old retired dentist, of Campos’ proposal. “There’s no harassment whatsoever.”

Konopaski may not call it harassment, but it is. Konopaski has been a presence at the site since it opened, even though it didn’t start offering abortions until months later. A MissionLocal article from April 2011 describes his protests and picture-taking and discusses why he and his colleagues decided to protest the clinic.

Two decades ago, Konopaski was pro-choice. He gradually began to believe that an abortion is wrong, even when due to rape. “If someone murders a woman who’s pregnant, they’re charged with two murders,” he says. “Roe vs. Wade makes exceptions to laws protecting life.”

“Some people [abort] children because they are too expensive,” says another protester, a woman who identifies herself only as Mrs. Low. “They must know God will take care of that child one way or another.”

Low and her husband are here, she says, because they are tired of seeing government money wasted on services provided by a business that makes it easier for people to have sex without the repercussions of parenthood.

The goal is to dissuade expecting mothers from getting abortions from Planned Parenthood, and to drive the clinic into bankruptcy. Abortions are, Low says, “a money-making business.”

“The repercussions of parenthood?” No wonder these activists have no concern about whether the people going to the clinic are pregnant or not. Preventing conception appears to be just as wrong to them as terminating a pregnancy.

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