Proposed Toledo abortion ordinance affects the way protesters ga - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Proposed Toledo abortion ordinance affects the way protesters gather

(Source: AP Images) (Source: AP Images)
TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) -

Protests outside of an abortion clinic are not uncommon.

Now there is a proposed ordinance in front of Toledo city council changing the ability to gather.

Enacting a new Section 521.12 of the Toledo Municipal Code. “Impeding Access to Health Care." Toledo City Council recognizes that access to health care facilities for the purpose of obtaining medical counseling and treatment is imperative for the citizens of this city; and that preventing the willful obstruction of a person’s access to medical counseling and treatment at a health care facility is a matter of public health, safety and welfare. City Council, therefore, declares that it is appropriate to enact legislation that prohibits a person from taking certain actions to knowingly obstruct or impede another person’s entry to or exit from a health care facility.

"If we block the driveway or if access if blocked, that's against current law. Also, if a disturbance is created, again that's in the current statute,” said Ed Sitter, the Executive Director of Foundation for Life.

Sitter says this is a direct assault on first amendment rights. The change causing an uproar is the 20 foot buffer.

Outside of a Planned Parenthood or abortion clinic, no one can get closer than 20 feet to the building with the proposed ordinance, banning them from the public sidewalk.

"It will put those people that want to go down there and counsel women and give them another alternative or a broader understanding about what they're about to do, it will prohibit them from being able to have access to the facility, it puts them in the streets,” said Sitter.

The ordinance, introduced by President Steve Steel, wasn't discussed last week, he sent it straight to committee.

Councilwoman Sandy Spang said her email inbox has been full with people asking questions after that.

“If we begin to restrict people's speech, that violates both sides, their rights. And so I would encourage anybody who is alarmed about this and they should be, to contact their city council person to express their concern,” said Sitter.

However, supports of the bill say it is important for safety of those going into the clinics.

They are being screamed at and they're being accosted with photographs that depict images that are not accurate about what we do at the clinic," said Capital Care Network administrator Schuyler Beckwith. "They're being prayed to, they're being harassed on a regular basis and they come in and they're mentally hurt."

Toledo City Councilman Kurt Young says the council should be careful when consider which side to support.

"We're dealing with two fundamental constitutional sets of rights here," Councilman Young said. "You've got the right to privacy and the right to choose on one side. You've got the right to protest and gather on the other side. Whenever we're messing with something like that, we need to be very slow, very deliberate, make sure we're doing it right" 

Councilman Young says he expects a meeting about the proposal in August.

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