TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A proposal before the city council in Toledo would make it a misdemeanor crime to obstruct access to health care facilities including the Ohio city’s only abortion clinic.
The Blade reports the proposal would create 20-foot buffer zones where people would be banned from using unwanted physical contact or threats of such action to block someone from entering or exiting.
Council President Steven Steel sponsored the measure. He says such physical contact already is unlawful but would elevate the crime based on location if the proposal passes.
The abortion clinic’s escort coordinator, Kristin Hady, says she supports the idea because protesters sometimes harass and intimidate patients and don’t respect the rules, creating safety concerns.
Anti-abortion advocates say the measure would limit free speech. Steel says that’s not true.