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‘Unintended consequences’: San Francisco nixes ineffective, expensive pro-life boycott

by | May 1, 2023

By Bridget Sielicki

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to overturn an ordinance that prohibited the city from doing business with companies from pro-life states.

Though the law, known as Section 12X of the Administrative Code, was originally passed in 2016 in response to states deemed to have less-than-acceptable LGBTQIA+ laws, it was amended in 2019 to include states with pro-life protections, eventually resulting in a boycott of 30 states. Tuesday’s 7-4 vote to repeal the ordinance came after supervisors determined that it was too burdensome. 

“It’s not achieving the goal we want to achieve,” admitted Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the sponsor of the legislation to repeal the boycott. “It is making our government less efficient.”

While the city initially created the ordinance with the goal of putting pressure on pro-life states, a recent report by City Administrator Carmen Chu’s office showed that it was not successful with its attempt, and only one state was ever removed from the boycott list.

Chu’s report showed that implementing the boycott had cost the city nearly $475,000 in staffing expenses, and it also revealed that the city had granted exemptions to the ordinance — $791 million worth of contracts and purchase orders were established in states that were supposed to be boycotted in a one-year period alone.

The city administrator’s report also noted that the law “has created additional administrative burden for City staff and vendors and unintended consequences for San Francisco citizens, such as limiting enrichment and developmental opportunities. Few, if any, other jurisdictions implement travel or contracting bans as expansive as the City’s.”

“We haven’t changed a single law. We have made competitive bidding less competitive,” said Supervisor Matt Dorsey. “I think San Franciscans would be angry if they knew the amount of hoops that have to be jumped through and the added cost to city contracting.”

“What bothers me about 12X is that it’s really easy to symbolically act as if we’re doing something to move the needle. But in actuality, not only have we not moved that needle, things are getting worse,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

Four supervisors maintained that the ordinance should be upheld, with Supervisors Shamann Walton, Connie Chan, Dean Preston and Myrna Melgar voting against the repeal.

“There can be so many unintended consequences with this repeal,” said Walton, who noted that many pro-life states were “doubling down” on their pro-life protections and he did not want it to appear  “that we are not still fighting against these discriminatory practices and laws.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.

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