Statement from Bishop Daniel E. Thomas on “Impeding Access to Health Care”
On August 30 a public hearing will be held by the Toledo City Council on legislation titled "Impeding Access to Health Care" that would limit the ability of groups to gather outside of health care facilities. The language in the proposed ordinance is in direct opposition to our current law which guarantees freedom of speech to all persons.
It is my earnest hope and desire that this legislation does not advance. The ordinance is unnecessary and can only serve to have what the ACLU calls a "chilling effect" on free speech, particularly the speech of my fellow Catholics and all other people who are pro-life who pray and offer side walk counsel at the local abortion facility.
Here, briefly, are a few reasons why Toledo City Council should vote "no" on this legislation:
- Similar ordinances have been introduced in Ohio cities including Columbus, - and even the ACLU which supports abortion rights - came out against the ordinance as it restricts free speech (http://www.acluohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/LetterToColumbusCityAttorney-ReBufferZoneOrdinance-2016_0615.pdf).
- "Impeding Access to Health Care" is unnecessary because current law already safeguards ones' access under existing statutes in sections 351.07(24) and 509.03 of Toledo Municipal Code.
- This ordinance should be seen as an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and could lead to unnecessary lawsuits for the City of Toledo.
- None of our Catholic volunteers have ever or would ever block or prevent anyone from entering the abortion facility located at 1160 West Sylvania Ave.
- It is not good public policy to change the law to protect the interest of a business at the cost of limiting the civil rights of fellow citizens.
As Catholics, we believe every human person possesses inherent dignity, being made in the image and likeness of God, and is deserving of basic fundamental rights: including the right to life.
Because of their loving, peaceful presence at the abortion facility, our pro-life volunteers, under the guidance of Catholic Charities Respect Life Office, have prayed with abortion workers and passersby and encouraged 18 mothers to choose life for their unborn children over the past 3 years. Our pro-life advocates witness at abortion facilities not to judge, to yell or to impede, but to offer the compassionate companionship of Christ for those facing difficult life choices.
I pray that the free speech of all people, including my fellow Catholics, will be upheld and respected so that one day, all human life, from womb to tomb will be loved, cherished and valued.
If you have had, or been involved in, an abortion and are in need of help, you can contact our Project Rachel Ministry for after abortion care at www.hopeafterabortion.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call, toll free, 1-888-456-HOPE.