San Francisco’s buyer’s remorse about law restricting travel to pro-life states

San Francisco, pro-life states

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is considering repealing a 2019 ordinance that bans employees from travel to pro-life states and from doing business with any pro-life states. Originally passed in 2016 to target states that they deemed to be less than protective of LGBTQ+ rights, it was later amended to include abortion.

The ordinance, which took effect in January of 2020, targeted 22 pro-life states and was spearheaded by Supervisor Vallie Brown with the support of Mayor London Breed. “Every day in this country, women’s reproductive rights are threatened, and we have to fight back,” Mayor Breed said in a statement at the time. “Just as we restricted spending with states that have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people, we are standing up against states that put women’s health at risk and that are actively working to limit reproductive freedoms. By limiting travel and contracting with certain states, we are sending a clear message to states that disregard the right to abortion. I want to thank Supervisor Brown for leading this important effort, and all of the organizations who supported this work.”

Yet now, the ordinance is being derided as “costly and ineffective.”

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A report from City Administrator Carmen Chu’s office said the impacts of the ordinance were not clear, and that it has merely caused more burdens on City staff members. “On a policy level, it is unclear how much the City’s prohibition on City-funded travel and boycott of businesses headquartered in banned states can influence another jurisdiction’s policies,” the report said. “No states with restrictive LGBTQ rights, voting rights, or abortion policies have cited the City’s travel and contract bans as motivation for reforming their laws.”

Additionally, the report admitted that travel and business with pro-life states has continued, while contracting costs have increased.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told the San Francisco Chronicle he is planning on working to repeal the ordinance entirely. “It’s an ineffective policy that complicates the business of San Francisco government and makes it very likely that we pay more than we should for goods and services,” he said. “The most effective pressure San Francisco can apply on red states is showing that San Francisco can be effectively governed.” Mayor Breed also said she is in favor of repeal or reform of the discriminatory ordinance, despite originally backing it.

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