Columbus — Ohio House Health Committee Chairman Derek Merrin is refusing to accept testimony on Sub. Senate Bill 23. In last week’s hearing, the committee accepted a substitute bill which makes significant changes to the bill. No witness has been able to speak to the committee after reviewing these changes.

The following four organizations have released the below statements calling on a full hearing process for the substitute bill.

Restoring Our Own Through Transformation Executive Director Jessica M. Roach: “To refuse an opportunity for testimony on Senate Bill 23 is yet another example of the institutional oppression that not only ignores family centered voices, it suppresses them. ROOTT stands firmly in its original testimony that this, and other legislative bills of its kind that further deny access to all reproductive health care, is a violation of patient’s right to informed decision making. Bills like SB 23, if signed into law, will not only further criminalize Black families, but will create an environment for increased incidence of Maternal Mortality, and continue the historical, systemically racist and oppressive approach that allows a few to dictate how, where, when, and IF we create a family. ROOTT stands in the principals of Reproductive Justice and the human right to autonomy.”

Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Executive Director Elaina Ramsey: “For such an extreme and immoral bill, it’s unconscionable that the Health Committee refuses to hear further testimony on Senate Bill 23. Ohioans deserve transparency and due process, especially with this cruel, dangerous, and unconstitutional bill that criminalizes doctors and punishes women.”

Gaby Garcia-Vera, Domestic States Program Manager for Catholics for Choice: “As Catholics, we are called by our faith to follow our consciences when we make moral decisions about our lives and to respect the right of others to do the same. Senate Bill 23 would allow politicians to decide whether and when a woman can access abortion care rather than respect a woman’s conscience-based decision making, as our Catholic faith compels us to do. We believe that it is neither our role—nor the government’s—to stand in judgment or to interfere with a woman’s moral agency in making the best decision for herself and her family. Bills like SB 23 harm the most vulnerable of our neighbors by impeding their decisions and imposing one set of religious views into law. The women of Ohio deserve better than to be pawns in a political game.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle: “This near total abortion ban will destroy reproductive health outcomes for tens of thousands of Ohioans. Despite the severity of the impact of the new language in the bill, the Rep. Merrin is forcing a vote without an appropriate review and discussion. This shows the blatant disregard that this legislature has for the health and safety of pregnant women across our state.”

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