Ohio Bill Would Target Harassment, Vandalism Outside of Abortion Clinics


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[image-1]Harassment and violence against abortion clinics is on the rise, and some Democratic lawmakers are arguing that Ohio's facilities are not adequately protected. It's never an easy task to pass civil rights legislation in this state, but a proposed bill "would make it a crime to impede access to a reproductive health care facility and harass or intimidate its employees," as ProgressOhio explains.

House Bill 234 has languished in committee for months now.

Calls to advance this bill increased in the wake of a particularly unsettling protest in Columbus earlier this month; members of the “Bible Believers” were seen outside the Founders Women’s Health Center, where they were telling women they "need to get raped." It's the same sort of garbage that occupied Public Square throughout the Republican National Convention, if you were mad enough to brave the masses that week.

"You're a low-budget whore, that's all you are," the jackal screams into his megaphone at one point in the video below.

Stuff like that would be prohibited under the HB 234 language, which takes aim at harassment and intimidation outside of abortion clinics in Ohio. The bill's text specifically cites harassment against health care facility employees, but also bans "follow[ing] and harass[ing] another person within fifteen feet of the premises of a reproductive health care facility."

“Ohio needs to take a stand against the increasing violence and pass this bill,” said Rep. Stephanie Howse in a public statement. “We can protect the protesters’ free-speech rights, but we also have an obligation to address their violent conduct and protect the rights of patients to access healthcare.”

Throughout this summer, Preterm, in Cleveland, was targeted by vandals who tossed bricks through at least 10 windows at the Shaker Boulevard facility.

"The protests are getting larger, louder and more aggressive,'' said Chris France, executive director of Preterm. "There is no doubt that their conduct constitutes harassment and intimidation, not free speech.''

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