Ohio House Bill seeks abortion clinic ‘buffer zones’ and penalizes pro-lifers who “annoy” workers

In an email this week, pro-life group Created Equal told supporters that abortion advocates in Ohio have introduced House Bill 234, which Created Equal says (original emphasis) “would make behavior which might annoy someone who works, owns, or seeks care at a ‘reproductive services’ clinic illegal.”

Indeed, the text of the bill states, in Section 2307.48, that “annoying” an employee counts as a violation:

“Harassment” means a knowing and willful course of conduct that is directed at one or more employees of a health care facility, that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed, that in fact seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the employee or employees, and that serves no legitimate purpose.

In Section 2919.10, the bill adds that “no person shall knowingly… follow and harass another person within fifteen feet of the premises of a reproductive health care facility” or “engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commit acts within fifteen feet of the premises of a reproductive health care facility when that behavior places another person in reasonable fear of physical harm, or attempt to do the same.”

Violators of the bill will be looked upon as “guilty of impeding access to reproductive health care, a misdemeanor of the first degree on a first offense and a felony of the fourth degree on each subsequent offense.” Created Equal notes that the felony charges would carry “a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $5,000.”

The pro-life group also says the Columbus City Council attempted to enforce a “very similar measure” last year, which even the ACLU of Ohio condemned, because laws prohibiting such violence and threats are already in effect, and due to its use of subjective terms like “annoy.” The ACLU also denounced the city council’s attempt to enforce a 15-foot buffer zone around abortion facilities, a violation of free speech which even the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled against in the past.

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