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AB 2085: CA’s Move to Streamline Abortion Clinic Approvals Sparks Outrage

To prevent local jurisdictions from blocking the approval of new abortion clinics, the California State Assembly recently passed AB 2085, a bill designed to expedite the approval process for community clinics offering reproductive health services, including abortions. Authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, this bill mandates that local governments grant ministerial approval for these clinics without discretionary review if they meet specific criteria. This move has ignited opposition from pro-life advocates and community leaders who argue that it undermines local control and community values.

The Core of AB 2085
AB 2085 requires that local governments approve applications for the development of community clinics that provide reproductive health services, including abortions, without discretionary review if they meet the following criteria:

  • Located in zones where office, retail, healthcare, or parking are primarily permitted.
  • Comply with minimum construction standards.
  • Meet objective design review standards at the time of application.
  • Do not require the demolition of historic structures or housing.
  • The bill also exempts these projects from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), streamlining the process further by avoiding environmental reviews.

Pro-Life Perspective: A Threat to Community Values
Pro-life advocates view AB 2085 as a direct assault on local governance and the values of many Californian communities. According to Greg Burt, Vice President of California Family Council (CFC), “AB 2085 is a direct assault on the ability of local communities to govern themselves and uphold their values. It prioritizes the abortion industry over the rights and concerns of local citizens. This is not just about zoning laws; it’s about preserving the integrity and autonomy of our communities.”

The CFC, along with other pro-life organizations, argues that the bill disregards the deeply held beliefs of many Californians who oppose abortion and seek to promote life-affirming alternatives. They emphasize that the presence of abortion clinics in their neighborhoods could lead to increased tension and conflict, especially in communities that hold strong pro-life convictions.

Protests Highlight Opposition
The passage of AB 2085 comes on the heels of significant public outcry against Planned Parenthood’s efforts to establish a new abortion clinic in Fontana, California. In June 2023, hundreds of pro-life activists gathered to protest the proposed clinic, voicing their concerns over the potential impact on the community. According to a report by the National Right to Life News, protesters highlighted the incongruity of placing an abortion facility in a community that values life and family.

One protester, Janet Lopez, expressed the sentiments of many attendees: “We are here to protect our children and our community. An abortion clinic does not belong in Fontana. We want to promote life and provide real support for women in crisis, not offer them a quick solution that leads to more pain and suffering.”

Legal and Environmental Concerns
Beyond the moral and ethical objections, critics of AB 2085 also raise practical concerns about the bill’s implications. By exempting these projects from CEQA, the bill bypasses essential environmental and safety evaluations. This could lead to the construction of clinics in areas where they may not be suitable due to environmental risks or inadequate infrastructure, posing potential hazards to both patients and the surrounding community.

Moreover, the bill’s requirement for ministerial approval removes the ability of local authorities to consider community input and specific local needs. This one-size-fits-all approach is seen as a significant overreach that disregards the unique character and values of individual communities across California.

Advocating for Local Autonomy
Pro-life advocates are calling on local representatives and citizens to take action against AB 2085. They stress the importance of maintaining local control over land use decisions and ensuring that community values are respected in the planning process.

“We cannot allow Sacramento to impose its will on our local communities,” said Burt. “We must stand together to protect our right to self-governance and uphold the sanctity of life. AB 2085 is not just an attack on local control; it is an attack on the values that make our communities strong.”

As AB 2085 moves forward, the debate over its implications intensifies. Pro-life advocates remain steadfast in their opposition, emphasizing the need to preserve local autonomy and protect community values. The coming weeks and months will be critical as stakeholders on both sides of the issue mobilize to influence the outcome of this contentious legislation.

AB 2085’s next hearing will be this Wednesday, June 5, in the Senate Local Government Committee. 


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