In a statement released on February 24, Ohio pro-family group Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) announced its plan to sue the city of Toledo over a proposed 8-foot “buffer-zone” designed to ban pro-life sidewalk counselors from interacting with women entering an abortion facility.
In its statement, CCV said such an ordinance would severely limit the free speech of sidewalk counselors. The proposed ordinance says:
No person shall knowingly [. . .] approach or follow another person within 8 feet of such person, unless such other person consents, for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person in the public way or sidewalk area; and such 8-foot buffer zone shall apply within a radius of 100 feet from the Premises of the Reproductive Health Care Facility.
If this ordinance passes, any person found guilty of violating this rule could face up to a year in prison.
In a letter to the city, CCV president Aaron Baer argued that this is a clear violation of the first amendment right to free speech. “Stifled speech is not free speech,” he wrote. “This ordinance violates the First Amendment and restricts the distribution of life-saving education in the form of leaflets and literature.” Elsewhere in the letter, he threatened litigation, saying, “If the Council passes this ordinance, legal action will be taken to protect free speech and to save lives.”
CCV previously sent out a call to action asking concerned citizens to let the Toledo City Council know that they oppose this ordinance. More information about how you can help stop this alarming ordinance from taking effect can be found here.
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