Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom hires Mission Control Inc. a general consult for campaign to secure explicit abortion access in state constitution

OHIO – Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom has retained Mission Control, Inc., to be the General Consultant to oversee campaign strategy for the initiative to place a measure on the ballot to amend the Ohio Constitution to explicitly protect reproductive freedom for all Ohioans. Mission Control, Inc., was most recently involved with successful campaigns in Kansas and Kentucky, where anti-abortion efforts were soundly defeated in the 2022 election cycle. Mission Control, Inc., brings an unparalleled depth of knowledge and valued experience to Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, and their expertise will foster a winning, sustainable campaign.

The campaign has completed initial language drafting and is now moving into comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research and message testing, with a plan to file language with the Ohio Attorney General’s office before the end of February.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom is thrilled to announce this partnership and are confident that Mission Control will complement the grassroots work and power building our organizations have been doing for decades. We are committed to a broad-tent, large and diverse coalition, prioritizing deep community partnerships that are grounded in the sacred work of protecting reproductive freedom for the communities most impacted by bans and barriers to legal and local abortion care, namely Black and Brown Ohioans, low-income Ohioans, rural Ohioans, LGBTQ+ Ohioans, and Ohioans with disabilities,” added J. Bennett Guess, spokesperson for Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom takes this once-in-a-decade responsibility incredibly seriously; our strategy and timing will continue to be rooted in research, polling and data with the support of local, state, and national organizations. We are working expeditiously and prudently because we know that skipping steps or rushing the process would be a reckless approach when the stakes are so high,” added Erin Scott, spokesperson for Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom.

“Our desired outcome: an impactive win for the over 20,000 people annually in Ohio who need abortions. As the proverb says: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Our campaign puts people first,” added Kellie Copeland, spokesperson for Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom.

“The Dobbs decision dealt a major blow to human rights in our country. In 2022, we were energized by our victories in Kansas and Kentucky, which proved that protecting reproductive freedom at the state level is the key first step to building back our power. We were proud to be part of the teams that defeated those oppressive initiatives, and we’re thrilled to be joining Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom to build a robust campaign that will explicitly and permanently protect the reproductive rights of all Ohioans,” offered Leticia Martinez, Principal for Mission Control, Inc.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom is a coalition formed by the ACLU of Ohio, Abortion Fund of Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, Pro-Choice Ohio, and URGE. Donations to the campaign can be made here.

Introducing Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom

Ohio – Today the coalition, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, issued a press statement to introduce a ballot exploration committee, formed by the ACLU of Ohio, Abortion Fund Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, Pro-Choice Ohio, and URGE, to make abortion access explicit in the State Constitution. Collectively, these organizations represent Ohioans from across the state and key constituencies, including frontline providers, abortion funds, young people, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and decades of deep investment in Ohio community, care, and power.

The reproductive rights, health, and justice organizations are trusted institutions that have been working in partnership for decades to protect and expand abortion access and have formed an official partnership to get a measure on the ballot that would amend the Ohio Constitution to explicitly protect reproductive freedom for all. Planned Parenthood has served Ohioans’ for more than one hundred years, and collectively this coalition has provided abortion care with respect and dignity for hundreds of thousands of people, and has a network of over a million Ohioans across the state.

A campaign timeline has not yet been announced, the organizations are working as expeditiously and strategically as possible to identify the proper timing, while also realizing this is a precious opportunity that must be thoughtfully executed. The campaign is prepared to launch the effort as early as November 2023, but are also realistically contending with House Joint Resolution 6, Secretary Frank LaRose’s anti-democratic proposal raising the threshold for passing citizen-initiated state constitutional amendments to 60%. Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom are confident that this effort is in direct opposition to what the people of Ohio want and are prepared to defeat the resolution should it be on the May 2023 ballot. The organizations are calling the proposal an egregious power-grab that directly attacks our democratic process.

Below are statements from leaders of the organizations representing Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom:

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio — Vice President of Government Affairs Lauren Blauvelt Copelin: “Ohio’s elected leaders need to stop ignoring the demands of the people they claim to represent and protect. The people of Ohio overwhelmingly support access to abortion and deserve the fundamental right to comprehensive health care. But Ohio’s leaders continue to ignore the will of Ohioans, introduce barriers to healthcare and erode people’s abilities to exercise their democratic voices. This must end. We’ve seen when the American people are given the chance, they vote for their bodies, for their lives and for their futures, they vote to protect abortion. We know Ohioans will do the same. In coalition with our partners throughout the state, we will make sure our patients and communities remain our highest priority.”

Pro-Choice Ohio — Executive Director, Kellie Copeland: “Ohioans must be able to make our own reproductive health care decisions without political interference because abortions are not political; they are an important safety net that safeguards the wellbeing of all. When politics intrude on healthcare, medical decisions are made for us without our consent. Ohio politicians have forced people to continue pregnancies against their will to the detriment of their physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. This is unacceptable. Ohioans cherish our basic human rights. We will stand up against attacks on our right to vote and amend our state constitution. We will ensure abortion access for ourselves and future generations by enshrining reproductive freedom in the Ohio Constitution.”

Ohio Women’s Alliance — Co-Executive Director, Rhiannon Carnes: “Reproductive rights in Ohio have remained under attack for the past 30 years while anti-Black, anti-choice politicians have had control of the Ohio legislature, chipping away at support for maternal health and community health resources, including abortion access. Along with the majority of people throughout the country, the majority of Ohioans support access to abortion, and we will not allow harmful extremist ideologies to put Ohio families in a box for personal political gain. Ohio Women’s Alliance is proud to join this coalition of dynamic leaders to continue our fight to protect our right to self-determination on how, when, and whether or not Ohioans choose to parent.”

ACLU of Ohio — Executive Director, J. Bennett Guess: “To make sure we are never again at the mercy of changing courts, we must pass a referendum to expressly secure the right to reproductive freedom in our state constitution. Our approach will be inclusive, non-partisan, data-driven, research-informed and rooted in compassion. We know that Ohioans support abortion access and that we have a clear pro-choice majority of voters. This campaign will be led by and for the people of Ohio.”

Preterm — Interim Executive Director, Dr. Sri Thakkilapati: “Our coalition will go to the ballot to ensure that people can access abortion care in Ohio. The vast majority of Ohioans support abortion as a fundamental right. As a trusted, independent abortion provider, we know that people from every corner of the state, from every community, need abortion care. The power to make this decision must be in the hands of pregnant people and their care providers. This ballot measure will realize the will of the people and enshrine reproductive freedoms in the Ohio Constitution.”

Abortion Fund of Ohio — Interim Executive Director Maggie Scotece: “Ohioans have made it clear: We deserve the right to safe and legal abortion access. Thousands have relied on abortion to care for themselves, their families, and their communities, and thousands more will need access in the future. This grassroots initiative—by and for the people of Ohio—is foundational to ensuring the right to bodily autonomy, not only for ourselves, but for generations to come.”

New Voices for Reproductive Justice — Executive Director, Kelly Davis: “Attacks on Reproductive Justice and abortion are ever increasing nationally and in Ohio. The vast majority of Americans want abortion to remain legal. However, those in power seeking to restrict abortion will attempt to silence this majority unless we fight back. A ballot initiative in Ohio would be pivotal to ensuring birthing people have access to necessary medical care, an important first step in our fight against archaic abortion restrictions no matter what digressive action elected officials attempt to make.”

Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equality — Executive Director Kimberly Inez McGuire: “Young people in Ohio deserve all the fruits of reproductive justice: to make decisions about family and pregnancy without politicians interfering, to enjoy safe and healthy lives, and to thrive. We are joining together to build a statewide powerhouse that will ensure durable and transformative access to abortion care, keeping BIPOC young people at the center.”

The organizations will soon launch a campaign website with information about how volunteers and organizations can plug into the movement. Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom is in conversation with Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights on language and policy decisions and will have more to share in the coming weeks.

Supreme Court of Ohio continues to fail Ohioans

Columbus — Attorneys for Dayton abortion clinic Women’s Med Center have announced a new lawsuit in Hamilton County court, citing the failure of the Supreme Court of Ohio to take responsible action.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “For weeks, members of Ohio Supreme Court have turned their backs on Ohioans who are suffering because they are being denied the right to access abortion care in our state after six weeks into pregnancy. What is a single parent in Dayton facing an unplanned pregnancy supposed to do when the only clinic in town closes and Indiana outlaws abortion in a couple of weeks? The court should have taken action rather than forcing someone to travel hundreds of miles for a medical procedure, or worse give birth against their will.

Copeland added: “Between their failure to follow state law with respect to the redistricting process and their lack of compassion when being asked to halt callous abortion bans, we’re seeing just how unprofessional Republican justices on the Supreme Court of Ohio really are. Ohio voters have the power to change that. The first and fastest way to restore full abortion access in Ohio is by voting Pat DeWine, Pat Fischer, and Sharon Kennedy off the state Supreme Court in November.”

Dayton abortion clinic to close

Columbus — Women’s Med Center of Dayton has confirmed to Pro-Choice Ohio that because of the implementation of Ohio’s 6-week abortion ban for nearly two months and the impending enforcement of Indiana’s near total ban on abortion they will cease patient services on September 15, 2022. The clinic ownership is also closing their Indiana facility.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “This is a heartbreaking loss for everyone in West Central Ohio. Immediately following the Dobbs decision Governor DeWine and AG Yost worked swiftly to ensure that Ohio cut access to abortion as quickly as possible, having a devastating impact on people who need abortion care, especially those who are unable to travel to get that care. The closure of these facilities will only further that harm. Whether a person needs an abortion because it endangers their health, or their birth control failed, no one should be forced to give birth because they cannot access the health care they need in their community. On behalf of the Pro-Choice Ohio family, I want to thank the entire Women’s Med Center team who understood that and provided decades of service to their patients.”

The clinic, located in Kettering, has long been a direct target of Gov. Mike DeWine, Attorney General Dave Yost, anti-choice state legislators, and hateful extremist groups who identified the clinic as being geographically strategic in their efforts to punish people seeking abortion care.

Copeland continued: “Supporting the Dayton clinic was how we first began to work with Nan Whaley when she was mayor. Governor Kasich had signed new attacks on abortion providers for the sole reason of creating bureaucratic red tape specifically targeting Women’s Med Center of Dayton. Those attacks continued throughout Kasich’s tenure and into DeWine’s time as Governor. While Kasich, Dewine, and Statehouse Republicans crafted laws that tried to stop Dayton clinic doctors and hospitals from working together, extremist groups targeted these doctors’ homes. Mayor Whaley was the first to step up and defend Dayton patients and providers. Every Ohio voter needs to know that Nan Whaley is committed to continue defending them.

“As bad as things are now, they will get worse if we allow anti-abortion politicians to remain in office. We must turn out to vote in record numbers for candidates like Nan Whaley this November.”

Multiple amendments in various state budget bills and other bills attacking abortion care were designed by Republicans legislators and governors to weaponize the Ohio Department of Health and force Women’s Med Center to close their doors. Through the dedication of the clinic owners and staff, along with help from activists and Nan Whaley, the clinic had been able to beat back all of these attacks, until now.

  • The 2013 Ohio state operating budget (House Bill 59) required all ambulatory surgical facilities, including abortion clinics, to have a transfer agreement with a “local” hospital. Local was undefined and these transfer agreements are completely medically unnecessary because all hospitals must treat anyone in an emergency situation. This bill also banned any public hospital from signing a transfer agreement with an abortion clinic, greatly limiting which hospitals in the state could sign such an agreement with a facility who provided abortion care.
  • The 2015 Ohio state operating budget (House Bill 64) required that an ambulatory surgical facility (ASF) transfer agreement be with a hospital within 30 miles of the facility.
  • House Bill 157, passed in December 2021, restricted the physicians’ ability to work with state-funded medical facilities, medical schools, and teaching hospitals if they also sign onto a variance application with an Ambulatory Surgical Facility.

State of the State reaction

Columbus — Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland issued the following response to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s annual State of the State address.

“Mike DeWine and his cronies have failed to make their case on abortion with Ohioans and the American people. Instead of respecting what their fellow citizens think and say, they are abusing their positions to impose their worldview on everyone else. That is not patriotic. That is not democratic. Those are not Ohio values. Those are not American values.

“Governor DeWine has weaponized the Ohio Department of Health against abortion clinics, when he should have used them as a regulatory partner to help ensure that patients are getting the best care. Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers have been defunded. Abstinence only sex education, which is dangerously ineffective, has been if not the law of the land, certainly the policy of the land. The state has made dismal progress — if any — on infant and maternal mortality. Abortion is one piece of a larger set of issues around reproductive rights, health, justice, and freedom that have frankly deteriorated drastically over the last 10 years.

“Now is the time for action. We, and the next generation, are at risk of losing the fundamental freedom to decide when and if and how to have a family, what happens inside our own bodies. But we are not helpless. We can vote in this election. We can vote for people, like Mayor Nan Whaley, who share our values and will fight for them. We can make our voices heard right now about redistricting and the failure of leadership by Mike DeWine and the redistricting commission that has decided that they would rather rule over the people Ohio than serve the people of Ohio.”

Ohio has nine abortion clinics open for patients across the state; six of them offer full abortion services and three others provide medication abortion. Find the full list on our website: https://prochoiceohio.org/clinics/

Medication abortion is safe, affordable, accessible. Period.

Columbus — In an effort to stigmatize people seeking abortion care and the medical professionals who provide that care, Senator Stephen Huffman has introduced Senate Bill 304.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “This is part of an ongoing campaign based on fear and misinformation to smear abortion providers and frighten patients. An increasing number of patients are turning to medication abortion care. That is why anti-abortion organizations and the politicians in their pockets are desperate to dissuade patients from choosing this safe, effective, and private abortion method.

“It is outrageous that Ohio politicians like Governor Mike DeWine and Senator Steven Huffman use their offices to spread medically inaccurate lies. Regardless of their wild claims, the fact is that 20 years of data clearly shows that medication abortion is safe and effective, including annual reports produced by the Ohio Department of Health. The use of mifepristone and misoprostol to induce abortion has a complication rate lower than child birth1, and on par with colonoscopies2.”

A note on language: Mifepristone is a form of medication abortion. The biased use of the phrase “chemical abortion” by individuals and organizations that oppose abortion access is inappropriate and intended to spread uncertainty around a safe, FDA-approved pharmaceutical.

Annual Induced Abortions in Ohio reports are available at: https://odh.ohio.gov/explore-data-and-stats/published-reports/data-and-stats-abortion-reports

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1The comparative safety of legal induced abortion and childbirth in the United States:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22270271/

2Major Complication Rate After Abortion Is Extremely Low, Study Shows:
https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/12/121781/major-complication-rate-after-abortion-extremely-low-study-shows

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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The u.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade

Abortion access is temporarily restored in Ohio, and we’re going to keep fighting to keep it that way!

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!