Pro-choice state legislators recently introduced a bill that would increase protection for Ohio’s abortion clinics. We’ve blogged at length about the anti-choice harassment that our patients, volunteers, and physicians experience, so we were thrilled when we heard about House Bill 408. Known as the “Clinic Protection Bill," HB 408 would accomplish the following things if passed:
- It would criminalize impeding access to reproductive health care facilities
- It would allow civil action on behalf of medical professionals and employees subject to harassment and intimidation at their medical offices or homes
- It would protect patients entering a reproductive health care facility by making it a first degree misdemeanor (on first offense) to obstruct the facility, make or threaten physical contact with patients, harass patients within fifteen feet of the facility, or physically damage the facility
Sounds reasonable, right? The bill recently had a hearing, but experts say it is not likely to come up for a vote anytime soon.
Not willing to take “no" for an answer, we joined 70 URGE advocates and students at the Ohio Statehouse yesterday to demand that the HB 408 be passed. Activists met with lawmakers and lobbied on behalf of the bill.
A press conference was also held, with supportive remarks delivered by State Senator Capri Cafaro (Ohio 32nd District) and Khadija Kirksey, the URGE student leader from Wright State University.
Amanda Patton, an employee at Founder’s Women’s Health Center, gave an emotional speech at the press conference, drawing on her own experiences at FWHC to explain why this clinic protection law is so necessary.
Amanda isn’t the only one who has witnessed the aggression of Ohio’s anti-choice protesters. Several volunteers have submitted written statements to NARAL Pro Choice Ohio detailing the harassment they have experienced outside of both FWHC and Planned Parenthood on E. Main Street (the only two abortion providers remaining in Central Ohio).
Until clinic protection laws are passed, we encourage patients to practice self-care when arriving at the clinic. Know the facts:
- Protesters are NOT allowed to touch you or harm you.
- Protesters are NOT allowed on the clinic’s property.
- Protesters ARE allowed on the sidewalk since it is public property.
Patients who do not wish to speak to the protesters can try the following self-care tactics while parking/walking:
- Wear headphones to block out the noise
- Use an umbrella to block out graphic visuals/posters
- Do not respond or make eye contact
- If you feel like a protester has crossed a line, don’t be afraid to use your phone to snap a picture or a video of the person who is making you feel uncomfortable. Show the picture to clinic staff so they can better recognize which protesters are being bothersome to patients.