Pro-Choice Ohio condemns use of tear gas in Akron

Akron — Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland released the following statement in reaction to the use of chemical weapons by the City of Akron against its citizens: “As a life-long resident of the Akron-area I am horrified by the actions by the Akron Police Department, both in shooting unarmed Jayland Walker at least 60 times, and in tear gassing protesters. These human rights abuses must stop and those responsible must swiftly be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

“Reproductive Justice, a framework created by Black women, is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent children in safe and sustainable communities. There is no Reproductive Justice in Akron so long as Black parents, and other families of color, live in constant fear that a routine traffic stop can end the way it did for Jayland Walker.

“As the Akron Police Department must surely know, tear gas can cause miscarriages in pregnant people, and can cause other reproductive health care problems. It is banned in war under the Geneva Convention, which are internationally agreed upon rules of warfare. Despite this, the Akron Police Department has yet again used tear gas in our community. We demand that Mayor Horrigan immediately ban this dangerous and inhumane practice.”

Pro-Choice Ohio supporters have been asked to contact Mayor Horrigan via prochoiceohio.org/banteargas

U.S. District Court approves 6-week abortion ban

Columbus — The US District Court has dissolved the injunction against the six-week abortion ban, blocking access to most abortions in the state.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “The court may have made this decision, but it happened because of malicious men like Mike DeWine, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Dave Yost and Mike DeWine have no regard for wellbeing of Ohioans. The swiftness of this ruling provides patients with appointments tomorrow with no notice.

“People who have appointments need to contact their provider. If you are unable to have an abortion in Ohio, your clinic will connect you with an abortion fund that will assist you in traveling to access abortion care in another state. If you need an abortion, there is a community here to support you. Mike DeWine and Dave Yost do not give a damn about you, but we do.

“To everyone who supports reproductive freedom, please donate to local abortion funds and advocacy organizations, make sure you are registered to vote, and in November. Vote for Nan Whaley for governor.”

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Nearly 50 Years of Precedents

Columbus — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 overturning over 50 years of precedent in Roe and Casey, according to today’s new decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. While the ruling applies to the 15-week abortion ban from Mississippi, this ruling from the high court returns the power to the state level to decide whether a person can legally obtain an abortion. The decision does not have an immediate impact on the availability of abortion in Ohio.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “The most important thing that Ohioans need to know today is that abortion is still legal in Ohio. There are nine clinics across the state and several in neighboring states that can safely and legally provide abortion care for patients. Today’s ruling is devastating, but it is not the end.

“If you want to know who’s to blame for this attack on our basic human rights, look at Governor Mike DeWine and members of the Republican Party. They have spent decades methodically passing legislation and litigating cases to dismantle Roe v. Wade and destroy protections for our bodily autonomy, access to abortion, contraception, and comprehensive sex education. In Ohio, they gerrymandered their way into power, and have defied the Ohio Constitution, the Supreme Court of Ohio, and the majority of Ohio voters in a desperate attempt to hold onto that power. They intend to rule Ohioans, not represent us. We must not submit to that tyranny.

“Mike DeWine, Dave Yost, and Republicans in the Ohio Legislature are doing everything in their power to ban all abortions with no exceptions. If they succeed, it will have a disproportionately harmful impact on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, the young, people with disabilities, LGBTQ and non-binary people, as well as those living in Appalachia and other rural communities. But make no mistake, it will touch all of us. Though some people may be able to travel out of state to access care, and others may be able access medications to safely manage their own abortions at home, others will not be so lucky. What will happen to the person who has to continue a pregnancy against their will? Or the person who has a serious pregnancy complication in Ohio and it is not legal for their doctor to save them? People have already faced criminal investigations for miscarriages. And what about people who are struggling with infertility when In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is no longer available in our state?

“Pro-Choice Ohio and our allies have fought, and will continue to fight, to keep abortion legal and accessible as long as possible, for as many as possible. We will fight to protect those who need abortion care, and those who provide that care from criminalization. We will never forsake them. The only strategy we are not willing to consider is surrender. We are the majority. We will prevail.”

Coalition of abortion rights groups announces support for court expansion

Today, a coalition of state-based groups working to protect abortion access announced its support for Supreme Court expansion because “the fight to protect abortion rights must include the fight to expand the Supreme Court.”

The groups announcing their support today include:

Avow (Texas)

Cobalt (Colorado)

Pro-Choice Connecticut

Pro-Choice Maryland

Pro-Choice Missouri

Pro-Choice North Carolina

Pro-Choice Ohio

Pro-Choice Oregon

Pro-Choice Virginia

Pro-Choice Washington

Reproductive Equity Now (Massachusetts)

“The critical work of litigating cases to keep clinics open, and securing proactive legislation to expand abortion access, depends on having a judiciary that acts with integrity, in good faith, and in allegiance to the law. But that’s not our reality…” the groups said in a joint statement. “[L]egislation to safeguard abortion access is critical, but not enough. We also need a Court that won’t overturn that legislation. It’s time for every elected official who supports reproductive rights to join us in support of Court expansion.”

“Reproductive rights advocates in states across this country are working tirelessly to protect safe and equitable abortion care for pregnant Americans,” said Senator Ed Markey. “That these advocates would have to prepare for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey at a time when dozens of state governments conspire to enforce unjust bans on abortion is a tragedy. We must do our part in Washington by passing the Judiciary Act to expand the Supreme Court and restore the American people’s faith in our nation’s highest court so that our fundamental rights are no longer in the hands of an illegitimate, far-right majority.”

“I’m proud to support reproductive rights advocates in their fight to protect Roe v. Wade by restoring balance to the Supreme Court through expansion,” said Representative Mondaire Jones. “This moment is urgent. We don’t have to let a far-right majority on the Supreme Court end the right to abortion and other fundamental rights—we have more momentum than ever to pass the Judiciary Act in Congress.”

“As the first state to decriminalize abortion in 1967, six years before Roe, Colorado occupies a unique place in our national abortion rights landscape. Because the Court is poised to overturn Roe, we just passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act to put the fundamental right to abortion in state law. But it is clear that without Court expansion, the right to abortion we have here in Colorado will be denied to millions of Americans. That is wrong. And it must be fixed,” said Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt.

“Maryland has taken historic action this year to expand and protect access to abortion. We are the southernmost state with the strongest abortion protection laws. But the truth is that the highest court in the land is completely tainted and overrun by far right fundamentalists with an insidious agenda aimed at criminalizing pregnancy outcomes and rolling back all of the rights we hold so dear. The supremacy clause of the Constitution only allows states to do so much and leaves the devastating potential for even more draconian bans becoming the law of the land and superseding state protections. This is serious. Expanding the Court may seem like a radical move to some but it is a completely proportionate political response to the gutting of decades of civil rights precedent. We are kissing goodbye the livelihoods of the most marginalized in our communities for generations to come if no action is taken to change the Court. Abortion access is highly popular. It’s time for Democrats to claim that and stop hedging. Abortion is freedom and a right there’s no popular appetite to lose. People don’t forget and will never forgive inaction at the ballot box,” said Lily Bolourian, executive director of Pro-Choice Maryland.

“Ohio has a strong pro-choice majority, but because of gerrymandering, the people of Ohio are being ruled by an anti-choice legislative supermajority that is on the verge of outlawing abortion without exception. The courts were designed to be a check on overreaching zealots like these, but the U.S. Supreme Court is now dominated by justices that were nominated by a president that was not elected by a majority of Americans. The recently leaked draft decision in the Dobbs case shows that this Court will no longer stand up to this tyranny. We must expand the Court to protect our basic human rights, our lives, and our democracy,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio.

“The fact that we are on the verge of losing a constitutional right is confirmation that we are witnessing the crumbling of an institution; restoring legitimacy to our courts is paramount,” said Christel Allen, executive director of Pro-Choice Oregon. “We will not stand by and cede our power to a Supreme Court majority that is willfully ignoring our rights, and whose actions will cause unprecedented harm to countless communities: Black and brown families, trans and gender non-binary individuals, Indigenous people, immigrants and refugees, and pregnant people and their families. Expanding the Court is a bold, and necessary change to uphold reproductive rights, gender protections, disability rights, voting and civil rights, LGBTQ2IA+ rights, and the right to privacy—these are essential, human rights.”

“It is clear that the Supreme Court of the United States has been compromised and politicized,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of Pro-Choice Virginia. “The extreme right-wing flank of the Court is using ideology not jurisprudence to undo decades of precedent and hard fought rights. Equity nor equality are their endgame; it is to use sheer force to bend us all to their will and it appears they will stop at nothing to do it. Our fundamental human rights and democracy are at stake and now, we must do all we can to stop this madness before it is too late.”

“We are in an ominous place where the Supreme Court is not representing the American people—the majority of whom believe in the legal right to abortion,” said Kia Guarino, executive director of Pro-Choice Washington. “Being pro-abortion is about much more than the right to abortion: It’s about socioeconomic justice, racial justice, and community. Our elected leaders say they care about these fundamental rights. Well, now is the time to act. The Supreme Court must be expanded to represent all Americans.”

“When the people working on the ground day after day to protect abortion access share their perspective on what it will take to protect abortion rights, everyone should listen,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, executive director of Take Back the Court Action Fund. “The stolen right-wing Supreme Court majority has already shown its hand, and the conservative justices’ pure hostility toward the right to abortion is obvious. So the question is, will our elected leaders sit idly by and allow them to impose their cruel agenda? Or will they listen to those on the frontlines of this fight when they say that if we want to protect the right to abortion there is no choice but to restore balance to the Supreme Court?”

In the days since Justice Alito’s frightening draft opinion leaked, momentum behind Court expansion has only grown. A poll from the week of the leak shows that a plurality supports Court expansion while a majority of the public does not want the Court to overturn Roe. This is consistent with April polling that shows a majority (52%) of registered voters believe that increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court would strengthen democracy.

In addition, leaders from former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder to Reps. Adam Schiff, Brendan Boyle, Nanette Barragán, David Cicilline, Jimmy Gomez, and Mark DeSaulnier have come out in support of expanding the Court in recent days.

The groups’ full statement in support of Court expansion follows:

As state advocates, we are on the frontlines defending abortion access in communities across the country — in red states, blue states, and purple states. And we are coming together to say what the moment demands: The fight to protect abortion rights must include the fight to expand the Supreme Court.

The critical work of litigating cases to keep clinics open, and securing proactive legislation to expand abortion access, depends on having a judiciary that acts with integrity, in good faith, and in allegiance to the law. But that’s not our reality: we have a 6-3 Court that was stolen by anti-abortion politicians in a series of unprecedented power grabs with the express goal of overturning our most fundamental rights. Everything we care about is at stake: reproductive freedom, racial justice, LGBTQI equality, immigrants rights, climate justice, and democracy itself. This is not a hypothetical — it is happening right now, and lives are on the line.

That means legislation to safeguard abortion access is critical, but not enough. We also need a Court that won’t overturn that legislation. It’s time for every elected official who supports reproductive rights to join us in support of Court expansion.

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Pro-Choice Ohio applauds Nan Whaley victory

Columbus — Nan Whaley has won the 2022 Democratic nomination for governor. She will appear on the November ballot opposite Mike DeWine amid a nationwide fight to decide whether abortion access will be upheld or blocked by the US Supreme Court. Pro-Choice Ohio endorsed Whaley early in the campaign.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said “Nan is who Ohio needs. We need a passionately pro-choice governor in Ohio, someone who will stop using the Ohio Department of Health as a weapon against abortion clinics. We need someone who will veto abortion bans passed by the state’s gerrymandered legislature. We need a governor who understands what is at stake and will fight to protect and expand abortion access, family planning, and quality affordable and child care.

“Mike DeWine has passed seven abortion bans and state policies against reproductive rights, including a six-week abortion ban. Just last week, he used an executive order to pay crisis pregnancy centers another $1.5 million so they can continue their plot of obstructing abortion access through misinformation campaigns. DeWine and the anti-choice Republicans must be stopped before they do more harm to Ohioans needing abortion access.”

In Akron, Pro-Choice Ohio issued our first ever endorsement in a federal race: “To ensure that everyone has the resources they need, from maternal healthcare, to childcare, to family planning, to abortion, there is no one I trust more to fight in Washington than Akron’s own Emilia Sykes. I’m thrilled to see her nomination and determined to do everything we can to help elect her to Congress.”

Pro-Choice Ohio reaction SCOTUS leak on abortion

Columbus — A draft opinion from US Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito is reported to have been leaked, showing intent to directly overturn the abortion protections outlined in Roe v. Wade.

Pro-Choice Ohio Kellie Copeland said: “Though many expected this could be the Court’s decision, we must be clear that this is not yet an official decision. Nevertheless, the heartbreak, pain and fear are not diminished. To everyone who has had or provided an abortion, or fought to keep abortion legal and accessible, my message to you tonight is that we will never stop fighting for you and everyone else who needs or provides abortion care.

“If legal access to abortion is lost in Ohio, we know that the people most impacted will be Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, disabled folks, trans people, minors, and low-income Ohioans. We must, and will continue to fight back. There will be tough days ahead. But we will not be defeated, because we will not surrender.”

On Tuesday’s primary election, Copeland said: “Now is the time for champions, not just allies. That is why I am asking Democrats to vote for Nan Whaley for governor. She has been in the fight with us for years against Mike DeWine’s crusade to close abortion clinics in our state, and we need her as Ohio’s next governor.”

On clinic availability, Copeland said: “For now, abortion is still legal in Ohio. If you know anyone who has an appointment, or needs an abortion, nine clinics across Ohio remain open to care for patients.” A full list of Ohio’s clinics is available at https://prochoiceohio.org/clinics/

DeWine Pays Off Anti-Abortion Groups

Columbus — Hiding his actions late on a Friday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gave $1,500,000 taxpayer dollars from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers via the state’s Pregnancy and Parenting Program. The funds were transferred under Executive Order 2022-09D.

Pro-Choice Ohio Kellie Copeland: “Mike DeWine is using taxpayer dollars to curry political favor with anti-abortion groups ahead of the Republican primary. The fake clinics that get this money are unregulated, not bound by HIPPA privacy requirements, and they trade in stigma and misinformation to dissuade people from obtaining abortion care. These fake clinics are gearing up to launch intentionally confusing misinformation campaigns following the expected Supreme Court decisions on abortion expected in June. And if that wasn’t bad enough, these funds come from money that was earmarked for needy families and children. Shame on Mike DeWine.”

These funds are in addition to the $6,000,000 allocated to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in the 2021 state operating budget, House Bill 110 and funds given to that program by the sale of “Choose Life” license plates.

Endorsement: Emilia Sykes for Congress in the 13th District

Akron, OH — The Pro-Choice Ohio board has unanimously voted to endorse Emilia Sykes for Ohio’s 13th Congressional district. This announcement comes weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling that could overturn or gut Roe v. Wade, which will threaten the legal right to an abortion here in Ohio and across the country.

Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of Pro-Choice Ohio said, “This endorsement is special, both because this is our first ever federal endorsement and because that endorsement is for Emilia Sykes. I have had the privilege to know and work with Emilia Sykes for over a decade, first when she interned with our organization while a graduate student doing important policy research on anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, and most recently as the Minority Leader of the Ohio House of Representatives. Her personal integrity and expertise in public health and the law uniquely qualify her to represent our community during this pivotal period when access to abortion is so imperiled. Emilia Sykes understands that all attacks on abortion access disproportionately impact Black women and all women of color, young people, and transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. To ensure that everyone has the resources they need, from maternal healthcare, to childcare, to family planning, to abortion, there is no one I trust more to fight in Washington than Akron’s own Emilia Sykes.”

Pro-Choice Ohio endorses 100% pro-choice candidates who have satisfactorily completed our rigorous questionnaire. Pro-Choice Ohio is committed to protecting the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing safe, legal abortion.

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
Pro-Choice Ohio, 11811 Shaker Blvd., Suite 210, Cleveland, OH 44120
Kellie Copeland, Executive Director

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

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!