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Pro-life group says vaccine protest too broad in California

A six-day California law banning protests within 100 feet of any facility offering any type of vaccination was challenged in federal court on Wednesday by a pro-life group that said the measure blocked its protests at a facility. Fresno abortion.

The Defending Freedom Alliance, a public interest law firm, sued California State Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, on behalf of Right to Life of Central California.

The problem is SB 742, which Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who defeated a recall vote last month, enacted law on October 8. The measure prohibits protests when a speaker is within 30 feet of another person who “seeks to enter or leave a vaccination site. The law also restricts demonstrations within 100 feet of entering or leaving such a site, but exempts “legal picketing resulting from a labor dispute.”

Violation of the measure is punishable by a fine of up to $ 1,000, up to six months in jail in a county jail, or both.

In the case of Right to Life of Central California, ADF said in a statement that the pro-life group’s parking lot is adjacent and that its offices share a sidewalk with Planned Parenthood’s main Fresno abortion clinic. The clinic administers a vaccine to prevent infections with the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which has been shown to cause cervical cancer.

California’s new law was enacted to avoid harassment of those seeking a COVID-19 vaccine, its sponsor, State Senator Richard Pan, pediatrician and Democrat of Sacramento, said in a statement. The preamble to the legislation also specifically distinguishes COVID-19 vaccinations as an objective of the measure.

“Health workers who administer vaccines and save lives need local authorities to have SB742 to protect them and their patients from extremists who obstruct and threaten people with violence and loss of privacy for participating to COVID-19 vaccination clinics, ”Pan said in a statement that made no reference to any other type of inoculation.

According to ADF’s lead lawyer, Denise Harle, “We are asking the court to overturn this unconstitutional law which violates the free speech rights of staff and volunteers and to allow Right to Life to continue its essential role. serving vulnerable women and children in central California. “

“Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff and volunteers shine in this community with their loving care and support for women going through an incredibly difficult time in their lives,” John Gerardi, executive director of the pro-life group, said in a statement. declaration. “Thanks to this new state law, the government is silencing our voice in the public arena. We will continue to stand up for California’s most vulnerable people – unborn children – and care for and support their mothers. “

The action, Right to Life of Central California v. Rob Bonta, was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

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