[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Harrisburg 11-13-2012 by Ord. No. 12-2012. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter may be cited as "Interference With Access to Health Care Facilities."
The Council of the City of Harrisburg recognizes that access to health care facilities for the purpose of obtaining medical counseling and treatment is important for residents and visitors to the City. City Council further recognizes that the exercise of a person's right to protest or counsel against certain medical procedures is a First Amendment activity that must be balanced against another person's right to obtain medical counseling and treatment in an unobstructed manner.
The City Council is aware of several instances in which police departments across the commonwealth, including the City of Harrisburg Bureau of Police, have been called upon to mediate disputes between those seeking medical counseling and treatment and those who would counsel against their actions in an effort to prevent violent confrontations which would lead to criminal charges.
In order to promote the health and welfare of City residents and visitors to the City's health care facilities, as well as the health and welfare of those who may wish to voice their constitutionally protected speech outside of such health care facilities, the City finds that the limited buffer zones outside of health care facilities established by this chapter will ensure that patients have unimpeded access to medical services while protecting the First Amendment rights of demonstrators to communicate their message.
"Health care facility" means any hospital, medical office, physical or psychological therapy facility or clinic licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health.
No person or persons shall knowingly congregate, patrol, picket or demonstrate in a zone extending 20 feet from any portion of an entrance to, exit from, or driveway of a health care facility. This section shall not apply to police and public safety officers, fire and rescue personnel, or other emergency workers in the course of their official business or to authorized security personnel, employees or agents of the hospital, medical office or clinic engaged in assisting patients and other persons to enter or exit the hospital, medical office, or clinic.
The provisions of this section shall apply to all persons equally regardless of the intent of their conduct or the content of their speech.
Any person, firm, or corporation who or which pleads guilty or nolo contendere or is convicted of violating this chapter shall be guilty of a summary offense and punished by a fine of at least $50 for the first offense; a fine of at least $150 for a second offense within five years; and a fine of $300 for a third offense within five years. For fourth and subsequent offenses within five years the fine shall not be less than $300 and/or imprisonment for not more than 30 days.