Columbus City Council is proposing a change to the City of Columbus municipal code that, if enacted, is likely to severely restrict efforts of individuals, respect life and other parish organizations, and entire parishes to peacefully pray outside of Columbus abortion clinics. See suggested action steps below.
The proposed ordinance 1548-2016 by Columbus City Council proscribes penalties for hitting, shoving, grabbing, restraining, threatening, blocking, or ‘harassing’ any person within 15 feet of the property line of an abortion clinic or other “reproductive health” facility. Current city code as well as state law already make it illegal to hit, shove, grab, restrain, or threaten any person working at or seeking services at an abortion clinic. Federal law provides stringent penalties against blocking access to a clinic or physically hurting someone who works or seeks services there. The proposed ordinance is redundant to existing law and unnecessary to serve public safety.
What is new in this proposed ordinance is the specific definition of “harassment”. The term harassment as defined, is very worrisome since it prohibits actions which annoy or inconvenience another person.
The terms “annoy” and “inconvenience” are extremely broad, highly arbitrary, and unlikely to be enforceable. Those charged under this proposed ordinance, which could be enacted by City Council as soon as June 20th, could face a penalty of up to $1000 and a year in jail, or both. This proposed ordinance will be challenged as an unconstitutional breech of the First Amendment as it attempts to limit the rights to freedom of religion, speech, and expression. If enacted, it means that those faithful witnesses who seek to pray at an abortion clinic would be forced to remain out of sight of the front door. Understand that prayer programs and sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics are directly linked to the lives of unborn babies saved from death and mothers who are spared from the trauma of abortion.
We join in the general concern for the safety of all people in our communities and this includes in and around abortion clinics. This is the reason why those who respectfully pray at abortion clinics petition for a change of heart offering life-giving ways to solve a perceived crisis. We stand against violence and promote respect for the intrinsic dignity of the human person from conception to natural death through peaceful means in the acts of prayer, education, service, and public witness.
The Faith we profess is integral to the way we live our lives. That is why we must respond when laws – big and small – chip away at the Constitutional and legal protections which protect our religious expression, rights of conscience, and the ability to participate in public life as people guided by our faith.
Act: Please act now. A possible vote may take place on Monday, June 20th.
1: Pray: Please consider praying that the members of City Council will vote keeping in mind the dignity of all human life and our individual rights – both of which are threatened by this act. You may participate in a day of prayer and fasting on Monday, June 20th.
2: Attend:You are invited to attend the public hearing on this proposal on Tuesday June 14th and the City Council meeting on June 20th. The June 14th public hearing will be from 5:30 pm until 7pm at the Columbus Community Policing Building (950 S Main St, Columbus). June 20 is a scheduled meeting of Columbus City Council.
3: Advocate: Contact Columbus City Council. Message: “Oppose proposed city ordinance 1548-2016.” For ways to respond including contact information and talking points, visit Greater Columbus Right to Life’s action page at
4. Online Petition: Greater Columbus Right to Life (GCRTL) has launched an online petition.
5. Postcard Campaign: Greater Columbus Right to Life has launched a postcard campaign. Encourage fellow parishioners, respect life committee, Knights of Columbus, etc., To participate in the postcard campaign contact Beth Vanderkooi firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 614-203-1147. Cards will be delivered at the June 20 Columbus City Council meeting.
6: Share:Please share this action alert within your networks and invite others to join the conversation. Visit GCRTL’s web page at www.gcrtl.org/city-council for more details.
ACT NOW…SIGN AN ON-LINE PETITION BY CLICKING ON THE LINK BELOW: