Judge Upholds Clinic Bubble Ordinance in Oakland

A judge in Oakland, California ruled Wednesday that an ordinance prohibiting protesters from approaching women entering abortion clinics is constitutional. The bubble ordinance, passed by the Oakland City Council in December 2008, bars protesters from coming within eight feet of women seeking access to a reproductive health clinic, reports the LA Times.

The plaintiff in the case was Walter Hoye, a Baptist minister who has protested at Family Planning Specialists Medical Group once a week for several years. He claimed that the bubble ordinance was vague and unfairly applied to opponents of abortion. District Court Judge Charles Breyer disagreed with these claims, citing a 2000 US Supreme Court ruling in which a similar bubble regulation was upheld, according to Medical News Today.

When protesting at the clinic, Hoye approached women to ask if he could talk to them about alternatives to abortion. He was arrested and convicted for violating the bubble ordinance last year, and chose to serve 18 days in jail instead of accepting a three-year order to stay away from the clinic. A superior court judge ordered the three-year probation regardless of Hoye’s decision to spend time in prison, and Hoye continues to protest while he waits for an appeal on the decision.

Hoye’s attorney plans to appeal the decision on the bubble ordinance to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


LA Times 8/5/09; Medical News Today 8/7/09

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