For Reproductive Rights, “As Ohio Goes, So Goes The Nation”
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Since the election of Gov. John Kasich, Ohio has passed a series of particularly restrictive anti-choice laws. Against this backdrop, the Republican National Convention, held in Cleveland, OH, featured a party platform noted for its unprecedented condemnation of reproductive rights.
In response, Fusion’s Katie McDonough released a video not only explaining Ohio’s history with anti-choice laws, but also demonstrating how the Republican party platform would make these medically unnecessary restrictions the norm across the country. She noted, “With all eyes on the Republican National Convention, abortion opponents are taking their fight to Cleveland.” But according to the women McDonough interviewed, the fight for access to reproductive rights has been underway in Ohio for years.
As Nancy Starner, the director of development and communication for one of Ohio’s remaining abortion clinics, explained, “Texas gets a lot of the media attention. Meanwhile, Ohio has had the second greatest number of abortion clinics close.”
Many of these closures can be traced to the election of Gov. Kasich. According to McDonough, since he became governor in 2011, Kasich “has signed more than 17 laws to limit abortion access.”
In a June 2015 article, Rewire’s Nina Liss-Schultz wrote, “Ohio had 14 abortion clinics in 2013, two years into Kasich's first term. But that summer … Kasich signed a two-year budget bill that included, among other anti-choice measures, stringent new licensing regulations for abortion clinics in the state.” She concluded that since then, over half of Ohio’s clinics had been forced to close.
Undeterred, in February 2016, Kasich signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. The bill not only stripped Planned Parenthood of state funding, but it also threatened the funding for any group contracting with, or referring patients to an abortion provider. This means the bill could impact funding for other state health care programs where Planned Parenthood affiliates currently provide the services, even if the referrals are for non-abortion services. Planned Parenthood has since filed a lawsuit against the state.
According to McDonough, even when women are able to access the state’s remaining clinics, there are still a number of obstacles to obtaining an abortion, including “a mandatory counseling session followed by a 24 hour waiting period, mandatory ultrasounds” and more.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland explained the danger these medically unnecessary restrictions impose. She said: “I was talking to an emergency room physician just a couple months ago, and he’d had a patient who came to his emergency room because she had taken rat poisoning to try to end her pregnancy. Because she couldn’t get past all of these medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access. That’s not women’s health care.”
“As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,” Copeland warned.