Breyer retiring, Biden must make good on campaign promise

Columbus — Upon receiving the news that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland issued the following statement:

“For 49 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has been the firewall for many of our basic human rights, including multiple decisions protecting everyone’s right to access abortion care. In the decades since the Roe v. Wade decision, anti-abortion activists set their sights on packing the federal courts with extreme conservatives who were specifically identified as judges and justices likely to uphold new laws against abortion access. In the last administration, their ultimate goal was achieved and the U.S. Supreme Court now has a majority of justices who are openly hostile to abortion rights. Hundreds of restrictions on abortion access have been enacted in states across this country, hitting Black and other people of color, young people, trans, and gender non-binary people the hardest.

“Justice Stephen Breyer has been a stalwart supporter of your right to make your own personal reproductive health care decisions since joining the high court in 1994. Most recently, he referred to the court’s failure to block an abortion ban from Texas as ‘very, very, very wrong.’ We’re grateful for his work.

“President Biden must make good on his promise to nominate a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. His nominee must have a clear record of protecting and supporting abortion access, and be someone who is willing to speak about the value of abortion and reproductive justice.”

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How they fared: Local anti-abortion ordinances in Ohio

Columbus — Late last night, Celina City Council rejected the proposed anti-abortion ordinance written by anti-abortion extremists from Texas, now the fifth Ohio municipality to consider the idea in some form. None of the municipalities listed below have abortion clinics within city limits.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said “What we’ve seen in towns across Ohio is that people do not support abortion bans. Even in conservative communities, local residents have been coming out to tell their own city council that abortion bans are not welcome there. Towns that have passed these measures are now dealing with the fallout, including a business boycott, ballot referendum, and electoral defeat of the politicians who pushed the ordinance in the first place. Local elected officials should respect the human rights of their constituents and refuse to be used as pawns in the strategy of anti-abortion organizations who are conspiring to outlaw abortion in our country and place bounties on the heads of anyone who helps someone get the care they need.”

Here’s how the anti-abortion ordinances in Ohio communities have fared:

Lebanon: Passed 6-0 on 5/25/21, resulting in boycott and mayor losing public support.
Located in the greater Cincinnati area, Lebanon was the first Ohio municipality to consider the proposal. The city mayor and some members of council held closed door meetings before informing the town and scheduled a poorly announced city meeting for public comment. One member of council resigned because of the ordinance and the town’s failure to move a “human rights commission” forward. Some city residents testifying in the later hours of the meeting said they did not know of the meeting’s existence until after it started. Following the passage of the ordinance, businesses in Lebanon said they were seeing the effects of a town boycott and raised the complaint that they were not consulted about the ordinance before it was considered. Mayor Amy Brewer and ordinance sponsor Doug Shope realized they has lost community support and decided not to run for re-election.

Troy: Rejected by council on 8/9/21, before formal consideration.
The city council was approached by Texas extremists, but also saw the fallout from the experience in Lebanon. In place of formal consideration of the ordinance, council members addressed the idea during a public comment period. They explained that the city does not have legal authority to ban abortion and that they would not be introducing the ordinance for a vote.

Mason: Passed 4-3 on 10/15/21, resulting in potential public referendum and two members lost re-election bids.
The largest wave of public opposition to this ordinance was in Mason, Ohio, which is next door to Lebanon. Again, anti-abortion extremists from Texas and Ohio approached Mayor Kathy Grossmann and Council member TJ Honerlaw. The council process was lengthy, as multiple ordinance revisions exposed rifts among council members who disagreed about the idea. The revisions also made it clear that the Mason council members were in constant communication with people in Texas, both admitting that the ordinance was written in Texas and any changes to the ordinance language would require approval from Texas in order to qualify for promised legal support. Mason city residents were highly organized and presented a majority of the testimony against the ordinance. Following a split vote that approved the ordinance, residents continued to spread the word. The two members of council who voted for the ordinance, including TJ Honerlaw, lost re-election bids in the November 2 general election. Mason residents are currently collecting signatures to qualify a referendum for the May, 2022 ballot.

London: Failed 6-1 on 11/18/21.
The city council in this rural community in Central Ohio was warned by their law director that the ordinance language they received from Texas was designed to attract a lawsuit that the city would be best to avoid. After discussion in multiple city council meetings and in two committees, the city council voted 6-1 to reject the proposal.

Celina: Failed 4-3 on 11/22/21.
A small but vocal group of residents in West Central Ohio led the opposition to this ordinance, which received three readings. In the final council meeting, the author of the ordinance from Texas spoke from the podium for a full hour in an effort to persuade the members. After listening to a local pharmacist who explained the legal problems with demanding to see patient records and many other residents opposed to the proposal, council voted 4-3 to reject the ordinance.
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Total abortion ban with vigilante provision introduced in Ohio

Columbus — Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives have introduced House Bill 480, which would ban all abortions in Ohio and deputize anti-abortion vigilantes to turn in their neighbors if they suspect them of providing, obtaining, or helping someone obtain abortion care. The bill is modeled off of Texas Senate Bill 8.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “Last week, we saw a second hearing on Senate Bill 123, the abortion trigger ban, which would ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, and now anti-abortion legislators have introduced House Bill 480. Make no mistake, Ohio elected officials are doing everything they can to strip Ohioans of their right and ability to access abortion care. This bill would be enforced by deputizing a posse of anti-abortion vigilantes, motivated by $10,000 bounties. This is especially scary because we’ve already seen terrifying threats against abortion providers in Ohio and this will add fuel to that dangerous fire.

“Black and other women of color as well as trans and non-binary Ohioans will be most scrutinized and targeted by anti-abortion vigilantes. The forces behind these bans are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and transphobic. This is hatred in legal code form.”

Abortion is still legal in Ohio, and anyone who needs care can turn to nine abortion providers across the state. Find the full list at prochoiceohio.org/clinics. If any of the pending abortion bans are enacted, Ohioans in need of care who can afford to will be forced to travel long distances out of state. But the reality is that many will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term against their will.

On the legality and accessibility of abortion, Copeland said: “If all dominos fall in wrong direction, abortion could be illegal in Ohio by July. Every pro-choice Ohioan must register and vote. We have to have a pro-actively pro-choice governor in Ohio because we cannot rely on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is now packed by Trump picked appointees. People who have abortions and provide abortions are our friends, family, and neighbors. They don’t deserve to be treated like this. We will never stop fighting the anti-abortion legislators and vigilantes that threaten their safety and wellbeing.”

Ohio saw increase in abortion rate in 2020

Columbus — The Ohio Department of Health release the 2020 Induced Abortions in Ohio report today. There were 20,605 abortions performed in Ohio last year; a 3% increase from 2019. Additionally, medication abortion was used more than in-clinic procedures as clinics worked to provide appropriate options that conserved personal protective equipment, while providing time-sensitive and essential care during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “More Ohioans got abortions in 2020, which demonstrates how important abortion access is in our state. Everyone deserves to have to that care in their community without judgment, delay, or stigma. Ohio’s abortion providers observed COVID protocols and preserved PPE at the height of the pandemic as they continued to provide time-sensitive, essential care.”

Copeland added: “Political obstruction of abortion care is dangerous. During the beginning of the COVID crisis, Mike DeWine and Dave Yost leveraged the pandemic to attack access to abortion, limiting the care that clinics could provide, potentially causing more people to choose medication abortion care. Ohioans need elected leaders who will put the wellbeing of their constituents first, instead of imposing their dangerous and out-of-touch views on Ohioans. Since 2011 30 attacks on abortion and other forms of reproductive healthcare have been signed into law. All of these attacks disproportionately impact Black and other people of color, low-income Ohioans, young people, and transgender and non-binary individuals. Every Ohioan deserves access to abortion care, no matter where they live, who they are, or what their income is, and we will continue to fight for that across our state.”

Abortion remains legal and available in Ohio. Our state currently has nine abortion providers, six of which offer full in-clinic services. Find the full list of clinics at https://prochoiceohio.org/clinics/

The report from the Ohio Department of Health is available at https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/explore-data-and-stats/published-reports/data-and-stats-abortion-reports
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Gross lies about abortion

Akron — Rep. Jennifer Gross has introduced House Bill 421, which mandates forced ultrasounds and factually inaccurate statements about abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “It’s no surprise that as Ohioans are waking up to headlines about more gerrymandering, they’re also learning that a new abortion restriction is being proposed. Ohio voters did not ask for this reckless Republican agenda, but here they are stigmatizing abortion providers and shaming and frightening their patients.

“What Rep. Gross is pushing is inexcusable. Abortion does not cause breast cancer or depression. Period. Her attempt to force doctors to tell lies to patients is medical malpractice. At no point should a politician mandate that a doctor lie to their patient—but especially not during a pandemic when communication and trust between patients and their physicians is even more important.”

Abortion remains legal and available in Ohio. Our state currently has nine abortion providers, six of which offer full in-clinic services. Find the full list of clinics at https://prochoiceohio.org/clinics/

Note on language: Bill proponents will likely refer to this law as “informed consent,” which is a biased term that should be avoided. A patient should not be considered to be “informed” by medically inaccurate propaganda.

Additional resources:

American Cancer Society: “Scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.”

American College of Gynecologists: “More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.”

Susan G. Komen: “Research clearly shows abortion (also called induced abortion) does not increase the risk of breast cancer.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Endorses Nan Whaley for Governor

Columbus — NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio announced its board unanimously voted to endorse of Nan Whaley for governor. This announcement comes the week after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade that threatens the legal right to an abortion across the country. As with all attacks on abortion access, this ban will disproportionately impact Black women and all women of color, young people, and transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “We cannot rely on the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the right to legal abortion, that is crystal clear. The fight to protect access to abortion must be secured at the state and local level. It is imperative that we elect a governor that is passionately and proactively devoted to ensuring that everyone in Ohio who needs an abortion has access, especially those most impacted by abortion restrictions: Black women and other women of color, young people, and transgender and gender non-binary individuals. We need leaders who will stand up every day and ensure Ohioans have access to abortion and other reproductive health care services in their community, without stigma, judgement or delay.

“Nan Whaley has worked with us for years to protect abortion access in Dayton. She is the only candidate in this race, Democrat or Republican, who has always put her values into action and stood up for reproductive freedom. We’re proud to endorse her and will do everything in our power to ensure that she is the next, and first elected, woman to serve as Governor of Ohio.

“Now more than ever, with the future of Roe v. Wade in jeopardy at the Supreme Court, Ohio needs a Governor who will staunchly protect abortion access, especially for people who face greater barriers to access. I’m thrilled to have the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. I’ll never stop fighting and will never waiver on my commitment to protecting abortion access and reproductive freedom,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

These endorsements come after the Whaley campaign announced an historic fundraising haul of more than $1.64 million for the first half of 2021, which is the most ever raised by a Democratic challenger for Ohio governor in the first half of an off-year. Her campaign has more than $1.84 million total raised for the gubernatorial race. Nan has been endorsed by more than 130 local elected officials and leaders across the state, the Ohio Democratic Women’s Legislative Caucus, 314 Action Fund, EMILY’s List; as well as CWA District 4, OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4, IUE-CWA, the Ohio State Council of Machinists, and SEIU District 1199.

Ohio Attorney General Abusing Position for Political Gain

Akron — Two dozen anti-abortion state attorneys general, including Dave Yost, signed an amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opposing the rights of people seeking abortion. The case before the US Supreme Court is yet another attempt by extreme conservatives to ban abortion in Mississippi and attempt to overturn landmark cases Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. Wade.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “It’s not Dave Yost’s place to decide for someone else whether they should be able to get an abortion. If the US Supreme Court listens to Yost and allows states to ban abortion, the harm will fall hardest on people who are already marginalized by our health care system, including women of color, young people, and transgender and non-binary people. The majority of Ohioans believe that when someone decides to have an abortion, it is critical that they are able to get that care in their community without stigma, political interference or delay. Dave Yost’s values are not Ohio values.”

New state bill would force doctors to lie to patients

Columbus — Representatives Kyle Koehler and Sarah Fowler Arthur have announced that they have introduced a bill to force doctors to lie to patients, potentially putting people’s health in danger, specifically about medicines anti-abortion organizations claim interrupt the abortion process. This bill is similar to one introduced last session by former Senator Peggy Lehner, Senate Bill 155. So-called abortion reversal ideas are founded in lies about how medication abortion works and an attempt to spread more misinformation about abortion care. This false information should never be allowed to be written into state law.

A note on language: “abortion reversal” is not a medical term, and scientific research into this concept is non-existent. This bill is suggesting forcing medical professionals to give information about an unproven, and potentially dangerous protocol to interrupt a two-drug regimen for medication abortion to their patients.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said:  “Abortion opponents in Ohio are continuing their efforts to stigmatize abortion with medically-inaccurate information and unproven, potentially dangerous, practices. Abortion providers rely on scientifically accurate and thoroughly researched protocols to support patients before, during, and after an abortion. Rep. Koehler and Fowler Arthur are trying to mislead patients and discredit abortion providers. Patients need medically accurate information, not scripts dictated by politicians filled with deception and ideologically-driven claims.”

The idea of using progesterone to interrupt a medication abortion was unproven last session when this bill was introduced, and now there is even more evidence showing that this protocol could pose a danger to patients. Medication abortion with mifepristone is a combination of two medications and we know it is a safe and effective way of ending an early pregnancy, based rigorous scientific research and almost 20 years of use in this country.

Unified statement from eleven NARAL affiliates

Washington — A coalition of state affiliates today expressed disappointment that the national network, NARAL Pro-Choice America, has chosen to eliminate its affiliate structure. The national entity announced that they were not going to invest in state-based work through their current affiliate structure. For their part, state-based affiliates of NARAL national are vowing to work collaboratively with each other to develop a new configuration to share resources and ensure reproductive freedom in their respective communities. They intend to keep their promises to local communities, especially persons who are most impacted by restrictions on access to abortion, specifically, Black, Indigenous and other people of color, gender non-binary and LGBTQ people.

The collective of 11 affiliates released the following statement:

“In 2021, a national entity unilaterally decided they didn’t need to work with grassroots groups and that they knew better than the people on the ground,” said Maggie Meyer, Executive Director of the Minnesota Affiliate. “If that doesn’t raise alarm bells, I am not sure what will. NARAL national’s strategic roadmap appears to be focused on places where they can claim big ‘wins,’ not how they protect and advance access to reproductive health care. The truth is, in many states including Minnesota and much of the Midwest, defensive work is more urgent than ever. National organizations that claim to value reproductive justice should not cherry pick the fights in which they engage. Otherwise, we will have a movement that leaves the most vulnerable people who need pregnancy and parenting care behind.”

State affiliates have secured historic wins such as over-the-counter emergency contraceptives on college campuses, contraceptive equity legislation, codifying Roe v. Wade into state law in Connecticut, clinic escort legislation, reproductive non-discrimination laws, laws requiring transparency with crisis pregnancy centers, and more. The affiliates have also worked hard to defeat bills that would threaten abortion access such as the 6-week abortion ban legislation.

“While we are understandably dismayed with the decision of the national organization, we will continue to partner with fellow affiliates and partners in our states,” said Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “What is happening with NARAL national is a cautionary tale to grassroots organizations and organizers that they be mindful of entities that try to co-opt the movement. Before the world knew the threat of the ‘heartbeat bill,’ we were fighting it here in Ohio. Our movement will suffer if independent, state- and local groups are not funded and valued.”

“We know that the key to protecting and expanding abortion access in Massachusetts and across our region is local, organized, grassroots advocacy. We know that, because it’s what we do,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “We can not take a step back, and we can not move away from the kind of local organizing that has proven so successful. It’s why we are so committed to continuing our mission here in Massachusetts. We aren’t going anywhere.”

Affiliates allege that as early as 2013, NPCA was contemplating eliminating the affiliate structure that governed the organization for decades. State affiliates vociferously protested the move though their concerns were ignored. With a recent vote to disaffiliate the network, the affiliates will unite to create a cohort that works for and with communities across the country.

Equal Districts Coalition Launches Statewide Push to End Gerrymandering, Draw Fair Maps

Columbus — Today, the Equal Districts Coalition, a unified group of prominent Ohio advocacy organizations engaged in the 2021 redistricting fight formally launched their efforts to push for an open, transparent, and truly fair redistricting process that represents all of Ohio’s communities.

The full press conference can be viewed here.

“Every ten years, we join together to draw new districts that give our votes equal weight, our voices equal power, and our communities equal resources. We do this so we can fund the high-quality schools, hospitals, parks, and roads we all need to thrive,” said Prentiss Haney, Co-Executive Director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. “Black, white, or brown, we need to pressure our lawmakers to draw fair maps that represent all of us. We can no longer let certain politicians rig the process to serve their own interests.”

The Equal Districts Coalition motto is “Drawing Our Future.” Coalition members are working to ensure fair, representative maps by including all Ohioans in the redistricting process.

Through highly engaging and people-centered storytelling, the coalition will explain this complex subject in a digestible manner by lifting up real stories and showing Ohioans how redistricting impacts every aspect of their lives. Members will also work to activate new, diverse communities and people of color who are traditionally left out of the map-drawing process.

“The past few weeks have been a clear example of the need for fair districts. Ohio’s Republican supermajority is currently pushing bills to gut voting rights, punish peaceful protesters, ban schools from teaching an honest history, and more. These extreme, harmful policies do NOT represent the people of Ohio. They are the direct result of rigged, gerrymandered districts,” said Desiree Tims, President and CEO of Innovation Ohio. “District lines are often drawn so certain political parties always win. Candidates’ only competition becomes members of their own party, so they move to the extremes to win primaries. Gerrymandering leads to bad policy.”

The Equal Districts Coalition includes the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Ohio Environmental Council, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio Student Association, ProgressOhio, All On the Line-Ohio, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Ohio Council of Churches, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, URGE – Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, LEAD Ohio, the Ohio Women’s Alliance, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Education Association, CAIR-Ohio, Campus Vote Project, For Our Future Ohio, Ohio Unity Coalition, Equality Ohio, The Freedom Bloc, and more.

The coalition has also launched a comprehensive new website to serve as an important resource for Ohioans, legislators, and the press throughout the 2021 redistricting process.

Here’s what Equal Districts Coalition members have to say about this crucial issue:

Tala Dahbour, Director of Policy, CAIR-Ohio:
“Gerrymandering is a calculated and dangerous practice undertaken by both political parties to diminish political power among geographic communities, and it disproportionately impacts minority groups who have less political influence as it is. The Muslim community, often being the subject of political discourse, should have adequate representation in the political process, as should be the case for all minority groups. We can’t achieve that without fair districts.”

Katy Shanahan, Ohio State Director, All On The Line:
“Ohioans sent a clear message in 2015 and 2018 about redistricting: we want fair maps drawn through a fair, transparent process that gives us ample opportunities to have our voices heard and represented. In the next few months, Ohio has a real shot at righting the ship of our democracy, at restoring fairness to our redistricting process, and at delivering to us the fair maps we’ve been denied for the last decade — but only if our leaders take it up. The Equal Districts coalition is ready for this fight. The time for redistricting is now. Fair maps can’t wait.”

Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Advocacy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio:
“We need to ensure that our legislators create fair districts so we can elect leaders who represent us. With our current unfair, gerrymandered districts, Ohio voters don’t choose the politicians. The politicians choose their voters. While most Ohioans believe their neighbors should have access to abortion care, our leaders have made it their job to push abortion care out of reach for too many Ohioans. We need equal districts so we can elect leaders who will protect and expand reproductive freedom.”

Deidra Reese, Coordinator, Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation/Ohio Unity Coalition:
“Fair and competitive districts are the best chance to give citizens the chance to determine who actually represents them in our legislature and Congress. Voters in Ohio spoke clearly that we want FAIR redistricting, and we must deliver that process as required. The time is now to get moving or else risk upending our elections and eroding voter confidence and participation.”

Ray Greene Jr., Executive Director, The Freedom Bloc:
“Minority Opportunity Districts are important for the democracy of all people, especially the marginalized. Forcing marginalized groups of people to fight for resources in a system that regularly gives resources to the rich and not the poor is not the democracy that Ohio deserves. We deserve a democracy that listens to the voices of all of its people. The way our districts are designed right now, that is not only not true but virtually impossible. It has caused Black, Brown and poor people to continue to suffer. The Freedom BLOC is asking that we end gerrymandering and implement minority opportunity districts that allow for all people to be represented.”

Daniel van Hoogstraten, State Director, For Our Future Ohio:
“Ohio is the poster child of extreme partisan gerrymandering — our state and all Ohioans deserve better. We have an opportunity in front of us to finally achieve truly representative maps that put the power in the hands of the voters instead of the politicians. However, in order to get there, we must have a fair, inclusive and transparent process.”

Heather Taylor-Miesle, Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council:
“Ohioans can only ensure a healthy environment for their families and future generations when they also have a healthy democracy. The Ohio Environmental Council is excited to work with organizations from across the state in the Equal Districts Coalition. For the past ten years, the General Assembly has been short circuited by gerrymandered maps, making it difficult for meaningful action on important issues like climate change. When Ohioans receive fair maps this year, with districts truly representative of their communities, the whole state will win.”

Kellie Copeland, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio:
“Governor DeWine has again signed a budget that only harms Ohioans. It puts two clinics at risk; and it provides millions in taxpayer funding for anti-choice fake health centers and dangerous abstinence-only programming. It enables medical practitioners to object to any treatment they have a personal objection to, which could mean that patients could be denied contraceptive care, abortion access, gender-confirming medical treatment, or more. We are being held hostage by the tyranny of gerrymandered districts and we refuse to put up with it. Ohio needs fair legislative districts that will prevent damaging policies like these from making their way to the governor’s desk ever again.”

Today’s full press conference can be viewed here.

The u.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade

Abortion care after 6-weeks is banned in Ohio, but the fight for reproductive freedom is not over! We will fight for abortion access forever.

Turn your grief and rage into fuel for the fight ahead by supporting Pro-Choice Ohio today! Rush a special Post-Roe donation to fund essential advocacy efforts and ensure full access to abortion care in Ohio is restored as soon as possible. Make a monthly sustaining donation to make the biggest impact!