Walnut Creek considers 'buffer zone' outside Planned Parenthood as confrontations intensify

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- The city of Walnut Creek says confrontations have recently escalated outside a local Planned Parenthood clinic, prompting officials to talk about creating a buffer zone to keep protesters away from those seeking an abortion.

Many of the protesters packed up and scattered once they saw the news camera trained on them.

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Local officials say they've been getting feedback that the sidewalk protests have been intensifying recently with people blocking the sidewalk or driveway. Volunteers who escort women in for abortions say some protesters use bullhorns to call clients murderers.

"Texas has encouraged people who are anti-choice anti-Planned Parenthood and anti-healthcare and they come out and are more vocal and more animated and it's just gotten more aggressive," Volunteer Robin Poppino-Kuntz said.

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Christian Aladdin, a neighbor walking his dog said, "I walk down here every day and I've gotten harassed myself. I've been asked what I think about it and I've said nothing and it turned into a big argument. "

"We don't block anybody. We don't stop anybody. We keep the sidewalk for people to have a free passageway," protester Jim Crowley said.

Crowley is with the group 40 Days for Life, a grass roots movement to end abortion. They say they offer help to women by handing out brochures about other options.

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Another protester said, "I can tell you we will never harass a woman. Sometimes there are two distinct groups that are out here."

She blames the encounters on others who show up, adding she is fearful to show her face because of counter protesters.

The City of Walnut Creek is already drafting up new regulations to control access to the Planned Parenthood clinic.

"We can see if we can have a buffer zone that can create a space between the protesters and patients, as well as protesters and counter protesters. Whether that space is 15 feet, 20 feet or 30 feet, we'll see what that is and we'll see what comes back to us at Council," Walnut Creek Mayor Kevin Wilk said.

Public discussion should begin next month.

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