By Lisa Bourne
A pro-life group in Toledo, Ohio, has purchased a parking lot across the street from the local abortion facility, which will help enable continued sidewalk counseling to women seeking abortion as the city considers an ordinance banning access to those women.
The Foundation for Life bought the parking lot across from the Capital Care of Toledo abortion center for $35,000 earlier this year, Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports.
A representative of the abortion facility told the local ABC affiliate that women seeking abortion would often end up in the parking lot by mistake. The abortion center escorts would then meet women in the parking lot and walk them past the pro-life sidewalk advocates. Now that the Northwest Ohio-based Foundation for Life owns the lot, it does not allow the abortion center staff or volunteers to meet the women in the parking lot.
“We were thrilled to have the opportunity and grateful for the three generous donors who stepped up and enabled us to purchase the property,” Foundation for Life Executive Director Ed Sitter told CNA.
Sitter also said he was appreciative that the parking lot’s owner had sold it to his organization for half of the asking price. The owner was pro-life, Sitter said, and wanted to give back to the pro-life cause.
The parking lot had been for sale for 20 years.
The February purchase of the lot was good timing, according to Live Action News, as that same month the Toledo city council had introduced a regulation called the Patient Safety Ordinance, creating a 100-foot buffer zone around the city’s only abortion facility where protestors cannot approach the abortion center’s would-be customers.
The ordinance has not yet come to a vote, but if it does pass, Foundation for Life’s parking lot purchase means the pro-life group will still have an opportunity to reach women who are at risk of abortion since they can speak to anyone on their own property.
Abortion supporters were not pleased with the parking lot purchase.
Kristin Hady, clinic escort volunteer coordinator at Capital Care of Toledo, said she was angry at the business that sold the parking lot to the pro-life group because according to her they, “will use their money and power to directly facilitate patient harassment and make them less safe.”
Nick Komives, the city councilman who introduced the “patient safety” ordinance, told 13ABC that buying the parking lot was a “petty move.”
Pro-life supporters, with the focus of preserving life, have a different take.
“They’ll change their minds,” pro-life advocate Bob Schoen said of women who come to the abortion facility. “We know that it’s not going to be many, but it doesn’t have to be many for us. We want to help the ones that we can.”
Sitter said the buffer zone ordinance was an infringement on free speech and freedom of association, and that it created “another constitutional issue of infringing upon the useful purpose of our private property.”
The ordinance has met with union opposition, according to Sitter, and the city council, which is majority-Democrat, is expected to wait to vote on the measure until after the next election.
Sitter told CNA as well that the Foundation for Life also recently sued the abortion facility, which provides only chemical abortion, for conducting abortions without a doctor present.
The pro-life group has performed sidewalk counseling at the abortion facility since 2009 and Sitter is excited about the parking lot purchase, since it will help them continue in their mission of saving lives from abortion.
“It’s going to be extremely effective,” Sitter said.