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California

Protection Against Clinic Violence

California has numerous laws related to clinic violence and harassment.  Under the California FACE Act enacted in 2001, any person who by force, threat of force, or violent physical obstruction intentionally injures, intimidates, interferes with, or attempts to injure, intimidate, or interfere with, any person or entity because that person or entity is a reproductive-health-services client, provider, or assistant, or in order to intimidate any person or entity from becoming or remaining a reproductive-health-services client, provider, or assistant, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable, for a first offense, by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $25,000 and, for a second offense, by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $50,000.  If the physical obstruction was nonviolent, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable, for a first offense, by imprisonment for up to six months and a fine of up to $2000 and, for a second offense, by imprisonment for up to six months and a fine of up to $5000.

Any person who intentionally damages or destroys the property of a person, entity, or facility, or attempts to do so, because the person, entity, or facility is a reproductive-health-services client, provider, assistant, or facility is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable, for a first offense, by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $25,000 and, for a second offense, by imprisonment for up one year and a fine of up to $50,000.

An aggrieved reproductive-health-services client, provider, or assistant may bring a civil action for injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, costs of the lawsuit, and reasonable fees for attorneys and expert witnesses.  In lieu of actual compensatory damages, the plaintiff may elect to recover statutory damages of $1000 for each exclusively nonviolent violation and $5000 for any other violation.  In addition the state attorney general, a district attorney, or a city attorney may bring a civil action for injunctive relief, for compensatory damages to aggrieved persons, and for the civil penalty of up to $2000 for an exclusively nonviolent first violation, $15,000 for any other first violation, up to $5000 for an exclusively nonviolent subsequent violation, and $25,000 for any other subsequent violation.  This law does not apply to a minor's parent or guardian who is acting toward the minor.  Cal. Penal Code §§ 423 - 423.6 (Enacted 2001).

An additional law provides that any person who intentionally prevents an individual from entering or exiting a health-care facility by physical detention or obstruction is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable for a first offense by imprisonment, a fine of up to $250, or both; for a second offense, imprisonment for at least five days and a fine of up to $500; and for a subsequent offense, imprisonment for at least 30 days and a fine of up to $2000.  Cal. Penal Code § 602.11 (Enacted 1992).

Another law provides that any person who, alone or in concert with others, intentionally stops an individual from entering or exiting a health-care facility by physically obstructing the individual's passage or by disrupting the facility's normal functioning, defined as intentionally rendering or attempting to render a health-care facility temporarily or permanently unavailable or unusable by a licensed health-care practitioner, the facility's staff, or patients, commits the tort of commercial blockade.  An aggrieved person or health-care facility may seek civil damages.  The court having jurisdiction over a civil proceeding under this law shall take all steps reasonably necessary to safeguard the individual privacy and prevent the harassment of a health-care patient, licensed health-care practitioner, or employee, client, or customer of a health-care facility who is a party or witness in the case, including granting protective orders.  Cal. Civ. Code §§ 3427 - 3427.4 (Enacted 1994).

Another law provides that any person who ignites or explodes any destructive device or commits arson for the purpose of terrorizing another, or in reckless disregard of terrorizing another, at a health facility, a place where a meeting or presentation regarding abortion policies or practices is taking place, or an office or meeting site of an organization that counsels for or against abortion or that engages in, as a major activity, lobbying, publicizing, or organizing with respect to abortion is guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned for three, five, or seven years and fined up to $10,000.  Cal. Penal Code § 11413 (Enacted 1985, Last Amended 2011).

Another law provides that any person who willfully and maliciously damages any structure with butyric acid or a similar substance is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment and/or by a fine of up to $1000 for damage less than $400, up to $5000 for damage of $400 to $4999, up to $10,000 for damage of $5000 to $49,999, and up to $50,000 for damage of $50,000 or more.  Cal. Penal Code § 594.4 (Enacted 1993; Last Amended 1994).

Additionally, under the "Reproductive Rights Law Enforcement Act" enacted in 2001, the state attorney general shall collect information relating to anti-reproductive-rights crimes and release the findings on its website, direct local law-enforcement agencies to report to the California Department of Justice information relative to such crimes, submit an annual report to the state legislature, and develop a plan to prevent, apprehend, prosecute, and report anti-reproductive-rights crimes.  In addition, the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training is required to develop a two-hour telecourse on anti-reproductive-rights crimes, to be made available to all California law-enforcement agencies as well as the prepare guidelines establishing standard procedures that may be followed by law-enforcement agencies in the investigation and reporting of cases involving anti-reproductive-rights crimes.  The act, scheduled for expiration on Jan. 1, 2014, was made permanent in 2013. To do so, the legislature strict Cal. Penal Code §§ 13775 - 13778 (Enacted 2001; Last Amended 2013).

In 2002, California enacted another clinic-violence-related law, creating the "Address Confidentiality for Reproductive Health Care Service Providers, Employees, Volunteers, and Patients" program, recognizing that reproductive-health-service providers, employees, volunteers, and patients are often subject to harassment, threats, and acts of violence.  This act allows state and local agencies to withhold personal address information from public records if providers, employees, volunteers, or patients of reproductive-health facilities complete a state certification application to participate in the confidentiality program.  Cal. Gov't Code §§ 6215 - 6216 (Enacted 2002; Last Amended 2010).

In 2003, California enacted legislation prohibiting insurance premiums from being excessive or unfairly discriminatory for reproductive-health-services facilities or their administrative offices.  This law also requires an insurer to report a cancellation or non-renewal of insurance policy if the insured submits a claim that is the result of an anti-reproductive-rights crime. Cal. Ins. Code § 676.10 (Enacted 2003).



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