By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,150)
The City Council reluctantly repealed its own 39-foot buffer zone ordinance that keeps opponents of the services offered by Planned Parenthood at a safe distance from its clients – effective immediately. The vote came from the advice of corporate counsel because of the June 26th US Supreme Court unanimous decision opposed to the State of Massachusetts buffer zone. Furthermore, the city is expecting a decision from the local court to rescind the buffer zone ordinance around the Congress Street health care provider any day now. The Council decided it was better to be proactive than to wait for the Court to instruct the City.
City Councilor Jill Duson, a user of the agency as a youth and an attorney, was the only councilor to vote against rescinding the buffer zone. Duson went further with that when she made a motion that the Health & Human Services Committee identify an alternative course of action by the second meeting in September. Councilor Cheryl Leeman said in part: “We are not done with this issue. There are options. We still share some of the concerns we had before.” Councilor John Hinck, also an attorney said in part: “I support the original ordinance. Not to rescind the ordinance would add arrows to the quiver of those opposed. There is more that we can do. The City of Portland will not tolerate obstruction.” Councilor Marshall said he would like to see other options. Councilor Kevin Donoghue, representing the East End, made no comment.
Councilor Ed Suslovic said that his committee will take up a recommendation for action on Tuesday, September 9th at 5:30 pm.