• Giselle Hale

San Mateo County supervisor is lobbying for clinic buffers

Canepa heeds calls from Redwood City to protect reproductive health

May 13, 2022, The Daily Journal


After a U.S. Supreme Court decision to repeal landmark abortion protections was leaked, San Mateo County officials are heeding calls to establish a buffer zone around a south-county Planned Parenthood as a protective measure for patients seeking reproductive care.


“With a continuing assault on women’s reproductive rights, we need to create ‘pro-choice sanctuaries’ and ‘buffer zones’ at abortion clinics to protect the privacy and rights of the women who are seeking reproductive patient care, even if they are coming from out of state,” David Canepa said in a press release Thursday.

Canepa, in a letter to County Attorney John Nibbelin, advocated for establishing a buffer zone around a Planned Parenthood site in North Fair Oaks and for working with other jurisdictions to establish similar protections for other clinics after receiving a letter from the Redwood City Council imploring the board to take action.


Mayor Giselle Hale championed the effort after learned the site has been subjected to protests which she has argued may increase if more out-of-state patients begin flooding California for abortions after other states outlaw the procedure.


Given that the Planned Parenthood site sits just outside Redwood City’s boundaries, any protections would need to come from the county which has jurisdictional say over unincorporated areas.


“This buffer zone ordinance will provide safety to both patients and providers. It is the first of many steps we should be taking locally to protect access to abortion. Local providers are calling for solutions now. We need to come together to answer their call,” Hale said in a statement.


Concerns for patients and providers entering Planned Parenthood sites and other clinics that provide abortion services have increased in recent weeks after a leaked Supreme Court decision points to a potential overturning of Roe v. Wade, a 1973 court decision that guaranteed the right to an abortion.


Abortions will remain legal in California up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy regardless of whether the decision stands once formally announced potentially in June or July. And state officials are also pursuing a ballot measure that would permanently protect reproductive rights through a voter-approved constitutional amendment.

Hale has argued the federal shift in abortion protections could cause visitors from states with stricter laws or abortion bans to flock to states with looser restrictions like California, bolstering the argument to implement greater protections of these sites.


In his letter, Canepa also requested that the board be given the option to set aside funds to support out-of-state patients seeking reproductive care in the county. The board is slated to meet Tuesday, May 17, but the item will likely not come before supervisors until their following meeting scheduled June 7, at the earliest.

“I think the county should work with our cities to create buffer zones at every health clinic in the county that provides reproductive health care,” Canepa said. “No woman should be in fear of caring for her own body by seeking health care at these clinics.”