Democratic women lawmakers unveiled new legislation designed to protect people from the increasingly violent protests taking place at women’s reproductive health clinics.
House Bill 408 calls for a civil court right of action for employees of reproductive health facilities experiencing harassment and would require protestors to stay at least 15 feet from clinic entrances.
The main sponsors are Reps. Michelle Lepore-Hagan and Stephanie Howse.
The lawmakers were joined by Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, and ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis.
And all who spoke during the news conference urged anti-choice zealots to tone down their rhetoric and acknowledge the deadly consequences it can have.
“Whether or not this rhetoric is intended to incite violence, evidence shows that it has,’’ Copeland told the news conference.
Theis offered an Ohio example, which she detailed in a memo:
In the mid-1980s, following an anti-choice rally outside Cincinnati’s Margaret Sanger Center, John Brockhoeft returned to firebomb the Center and another nearby clinic.
After the bombings, Planned Parenthood officials said they believed the anti-choice speeches were partly to blame.
Faye Wattleton, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “It is noteworthy that the firebombing in Cincinnati occurred on the heels of an anti-abortion rally, calling for, among other things, the elimination of all family planning clinics.’’
Cincinnati-based Planned Parenthood executive Ann Mitchell singled out then-Cincinnati City Council member Ken Blackwell, saying his speech to an anti-abortion rally three days earlier “fermented a situation that I believe culminated in the arson acts.’’
Blackwell said there was no connection. “I guess Mrs. Mitchell would restrict my freedom of movement and association’’
We now know the man who did the bombings was inspired to do them by the rally – which he attended – because he boasted about them in his prison dairy.
While in prison for attempting to bomb Florida clinics, Brockhoeft explained his motive for the bombings:
We know that God likes to see zeal and passion and is little impressed by half-hearted, lukewarm service, so I wanted to show Him by my actions that I loved Him, passionately, and that I loved my little neighbors passionately.
And so it seemed that fire bombings of Planned Parenthood and a late-term pregnancy abortuary about a quarter mile away would be both appropriate under the circumstances of such extraordinary desperation, and, also, approximately proportionate to the level of urgency….
Brockhoeft also identified himself as a member of the Army of God, a group of anti-abortion extremists with a history of violence against abortion providers and clinics.
Robert Dear, charged with the recent mass shootings at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, is also aligned with the Army of God.