City council proposes patient safety ordinance for abortion clinics

The ordinance would make it illegal for people to block entry or exit from a reproductive health care facility.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:51 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Members of the Toledo City Council have proposed a Patient Safety ordinance that would make it illegal for someone to knowingly block another person’s entry or exit from a reproductive health care facility.

Toledo City Council recognizes that access to reproductive health care facilities for the purpose of obtaining medical counseling and treatment is imperative for the residents of this region; and that preventing the willful obstruction of a person’s access to medical counseling and treatment at a reproductive health care facility is a matter of safety and of citywide concern. City Council therefore declares that it is appropriate to enact legislation that prohibits a person from knowingly obstructing another person’s entry to or exit from a reproductive health care facility;

O-061-21, Toledo City Council February 16th Agenda

The ordinance would prevent “willful obstruction of and interference with people’s access to reproductive health care,” citing a documented history of people blocking patient entry to abortion clinics.

Councilmember Nick Komives says this is the second time council has tried passing an ordinance for patient safety at Capital Care Clinic, the only abortion clinic in Toledo. “We don’t get to decide whether someone can or cannot get an abortion, but we do have a duty as a city to protect people who seek health care,” says Komives.

In the document, the ordinance ensures First Amendment freedoms of speech and peaceable assembly are not restricted, but local pro-life groups disagree.

“It restricts freedom of speech, freedom of access,” says Executive Director of Greater Toledo Right to Life Ed Sitter. “It specifically targets those individuals down there at the clinic trying to offer women an informed choice.”

Sitter denies the claims of people blocking patient’s access to the building and instead says the “sidewalk counselors” are there to help expecting mothers make an informed decision.

Volunteer escorts with Capital Care Clinic who help patients in and out of the building created a YouTube channel that shows incidents of people blocking the parking lot while on the public sidewalk, harassing patients.

“They drop literature in cars, they follow patients all the time, they yell at them,” says escort coordinator Kristin Hady. “I’ve watched so many patients be followed down the street as they are trying to leave the clinic by protestors who are undeterred by them wanted nothing to do with them.”

The council has not yet set a date to vote on the ordinance.

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