NO on Columbus Proposed 1458-2016
More than 2200 individuals joined us to sign postcards and petitions, send emails, make phone calls, and attend Council events in opposition to municipal ordinance 1458-2016. Thank you.
With your help, we were able to generate an estimated 10,000 postcards, 2500 letters, and hundreds of phone calls and emails to City Council and the Mayor’s offices. More than 1300 individuals signed our online petition, the majority of whom live or work in the City of Columbus. This tremendous and unprecedented grassroots turnout of pro-life activists was heard by Columbus City Hall and is largely responsible for the amendments to the ordinance.
In the end, we achieved a victory that no one expected we would see without extensive litigation. With only one full-time staff person, a handful of dedicated volunteers, and the combined efforts of thousands of friends and supporters in the Central Ohio region, we made a huge difference. If there has ever been a time to recognize and be grateful for an organization like Greater Columbus Right to Life and to remind our friends that we are truly unique in our ability to educate, equip, and engage our community, it has played out in the past month.
After much consideration, it is our opinion that while the as-amended ordinance enshrines an unjustly pejorative opinion of pro-life activity in the Columbus City Code, the final language is little more than a restatement of already illegal activities combined with an enhanced penalty for already illegal behavior when conducted knowingly within fifteen feet of an abortion clinic. As such, while we object to using city ordinances as a public relations stunt for abortion activists, we do not anticipate that any Greater Columbus Right to Life activities and volunteers will be infringed upon by a just and unbiased interpretation and enforcement of the law. For that reason, we do not currently anticipate needing to file legal action against the city code.
After seeking the advice and counsel of a number of excellent attorneys and after thoroughly considering the language of the enacted amendment, we have drafted some guidance for our volunteers and others in the community. We encourage that you review that guidance, along with a letter to our friends, supporters, and colleagues outlining why we believe a pre-emptive legal challenge is not currently necessary, and what we will be monitoring in the coming weeks and months.
This has taken a considerable amount of our time, energy, and financial resources that we could not have anticipated or budgeted just one month ago. Unlike City Hall, which is funded by the taxpayers of Columbus, and Planned Parenthood, which receives considerable taxpayer financed support and is suing to continue receiving your tax dollars, we are entirely dependent upon your support. We are asking each person who joined us in this effort to make a donation of $14.58 in protest of municipal ordinance 1458-2016. For less than $1 per foot of the bubble zone they attempted to enact, you can help us pay for the costs of this expedited campaign, help us share our resources with pro-life individuals in other Ohio communities that anticipate similar legislation, and - most critically - help us prepare for the next assault on the work that we do, which we have been warned is coming.
The Columbus City Government is currently considering a proposal that endeavors to make criminals out of prayerful and peaceful people. Municipal Ordinance 1458-2016, sponsored by Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown.
The proposed city law can be read in full here. It mimics many of the provisions of the flawed and failed HB 408, which was introduced in December of 2015.
One of the most concerning provisions in the proposal is that it endeavors to make it punishable by up to $1000 and a year in jail to annoy or inconvenience a person within fifteen feet of a "reproductive health care facility."
This means that an employee of an abortion clinic (or any other health care facility that provides reproductive health care), a patient of a clinic, a vendor of the clinic, a neighbor, or even a passer-by who finds it annoying or inconvenient that a group is praying outside the clinic could file charges against someone who is otherwise peacefully assembling as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, Article 1 Sections 3 and 7 of the Ohio Constitution.
We need your help. Here is how you can help us:
Thank you letter (7/6/2016)
GCRTL Guidance (7/6/2016)
Letter to Friends (6.08.16)
Note: this may be useful as a talking points about the proposed ordinance
ACLU Letter - Ohio ACLU weighs in on the proposed statute and finds it duplicative and likely unconstitutional.
If you would like to send a note of thanks to our prayer team or sidewalk counselors, let them know that you are praying with them, or share a story about how they have impacted you - feel free to do so below. We'll use your first name only, and keep your email confidential (unless you'd like to join our prayer team!)