Hundreds Urge State Legislators to Stop Passing Laws That Hurt Women

Columbus – Hundreds of citizens joined abortion-rights advocates today to demand an end to the anti-woman agenda pushed by Gov. John Kasich and his legislative allies and instead embrace equal pay, paid family leave and other laws that improve the health of Ohio women and families.

“Even before Gov. Kasich took office, Ohio already had some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, putting women’s health, dignity, and economic solvency in jeopardy,’’ said Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “Instead of stigmatizing women and interfering with abortion access, legislators should enable women to access abortion and all other forms of reproductive health care.’’

Since Kasich became governor in January 2011, nearly half of the state’s abortion clinics have closed and Ohio has seen 18 new, unnecessary restrictions on access to reproductive health care.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down last year, the nation’s highest court acknowledged what medical experts have long known: Laws that shut down abortion clinics and force patients to travel long distances for services not only fail to improve women’s health they also compromise the care women receive.

“That ruling has not stopped federal or state policymakers from trying to advance laws and policies that hurt women and undermine human rights,’’ said Jasmine Burnett, Deputy Director of New Voices for Reproductive Justice. “Instead of these policies, Ohio legislators must make sure all people receive a living wage – instead of preventing cities from raising wages – stop the criminal justice system’s practice of targeting communities of color and create access to abortion and comprehensive sex education.’’

Burnett unveiled new polling of Black adults that showed:

87 percent agree each woman must have the right to decide whether to have an abortion, even if they disagree with her reason;
96 percent believe a woman’s ability to decide whether to have children is vital to her financial stability;
78 percent said their religious beliefs do not interfere with their views on abortion.
In Ohio, like so many others states, anti-choice laws extend beyond restricting reproductive services and include attempts to limit access to birth control. One main line of attack: Defund Planned Parenthood – one of the state’s leading providers of contraception.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio provides contraception to over 20,000 men and women, lowers teen pregnancy with programs serving 43,000 annually and offers cancer screenings to more than 61,000 patients each year. Planned Parenthood also runs successful infant mortality rate reduction programs, and efforts to undermine Planned Parenthood come as Ohio is home to one of the nation’s highest infant mortality rates. In some regions of the state, African-American mothers lose their babies to infant mortality at three times the rate of white mothers.

State Rep. Stephanie Howse, a Cleveland Democrat who heads the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, represents one of Ohio poorest legislative districts and called on lawmakers to stop efforts to undermine reproductive health care and advance policies that lift people out of poverty.

“The people I know want to be good people, they want to live a life where they can take care of their families, they want good schools and clean water,” Rep. Howse said. “Many of the policies we see in Ohio are hurting their ability to achieve those goals, and in the process they are hurting our entire state.’’

Despite evidence the assaults on women’s health care hurt women, they continue today. Speakers said they expect legislation calling for additional abortion bans and more funding for crisis pregnancy centers.

Freedom of Choice Ohio Lobby Day was made possible by the following:

Title Sponsors:
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation
New Voices for Reproductive Justice
NCJW Columbus and Cleveland Sections
Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio

Program Sponsors:
Ohio NOW
Ohio NOW Education and Legal Fund

Table Sponsors:
Ohio League of Women Voters
Women Have Options / Ohio


Anti-Abortion Lies Continue to Drive Legislation

Columbus, Ohio — Following multiple accusations and investigations by Republican leadership in Ohio’s legislative and executive branches, no evidence of wrongdoing or mishandling of fetal tissue was ever found by Ohio’s highly competent abortion providers. In spite of this truth, anti-abortion legislators continue to introduce bills to harass physicians who offer safe and legal abortion care.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “House Bill 149 is the latest salvo from Ohio Right to Life and their legislative allies to craft legislation to slander and stigmatize physicians and their patients. Backers of this bill make wildly inaccurate claims that fetal tissue is being sold for profit in Ohio. That is patently false and they know it.

“From our infant mortality crisis to the opioid epidemic, Ohioans are facing serious problems. They deserve serious solutions. Once again, Ohio Right to Life is pursuing their crusade to outlaw abortion while ignoring the health care needs of everyday Ohioans.”

House Bill 149 is sponsored by Representatives Margaret Conditt (R-Liberty Township) and Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland). These two legislators also sponsored H.B. 294 (2015) to defund Planned Parenthood. After being signed by Gov. John Kasich, H.B 294 was blocked by courts because it violated First Amendment and due process requirements.

Abortion providers in Ohio are highly qualified to provide quality abortion care. Like other medical specialties, they have received medical education and passed formal licensing exams. Practitioners providing abortion have received training to competency in abortion care, including the prevention, recognition, and management of complications. Any suggestion that abortion providers are somehow less qualified or capable than other medical professionals is simply wrong.


Ohio Director of Health Departing This Month

Columbus, Ohio — Following the announcement that Richard Hodges is leaving his position of Director of the Ohio Department of Health, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is calling on Governor Kasich and the Ohio Senate to appoint a qualified candidate with real health care experience to fill the position.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director: “Throughout Director Hodges’ tenure, his actions on behalf of Governor Kasich to misuse his authority at the health department to shut down providers of safe and legal abortion have been disgraceful and dangerous.”
She continued, “Health care decisions must be made by health care professionals. Hodges’ politicization of the health department must not be repeated. Period.”
Mr. Hodges was appointed to the state Department of Health in 2014, bringing to the position his nearly three full years of experience as Executive Director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission. He is leaving the Department of Health on March 31, 2017. Hodges previously served six years in the Ohio House of Representatives. According to the Toledo Blade, Hodges “was a strong member of the conservative wing of the Republican caucus. It’s a bloc, derisively referred to as the ‘caveman caucus,’ that has fought abortion rights, helped take apart the welfare state, crusaded for tax cuts, and raised red flags at the expansion of state government.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio calls on Justice Sharon Kennedy’s recusal

Columbus, Ohio — NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is calling on Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy to recuse herself from relevant cases coming before the court this year following her appearance at a Toledo fundraiser hosted by Right to Life of Greater Toledo.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “Justice Sharon Kennedy should recuse herself from any case related to legislation that was proposed and supported by the anti-abortion groups that endorsed her candidacy, to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

She continued: “By participating in an organization’s fundraising event, Justice Kennedy has cast serious doubt on her ability remain impartial. Ohioans must be able to have faith in their government’s protection of rights without bias.”

Two cases involving abortion providers will come before the state Supreme Court this year. Toledo’s last abortion clinic, Capital Care Network of Toledo, is challenging the state’s transfer agreement requirements. Separately, Cleveland abortion clinic Preterm is challenging abortion restrictions added into the 2013 state budget as violations of Ohio’s single-subject requirement for legislation.


Ohio Right to Life unveils new bills, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio responds

Columbus — Ohio Right to Life issued a statement outlining their legislative agenda for the 132nd General Assembly. Their largely unconstitutional platform would continue to restrict access to abortion care for Ohio women.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “Ohio Right to Life doesn’t care about women’s health. There is not a single thing in their agenda that improves women’s health. In fact, the new restrictions they are proposing will interfere with the doctor patient relationship and prevent women from accessing the care that is best for themselves and their families. The goal of Ohio Right to Life is clear: to invoke shame and stigma against women who access abortion and to punish the medical professionals that care for them.

“This dangerous agenda underscores why it is imperative that Judge Neil Gorsuch not be confirmed to serve a life-time appointment to the US Supreme Court. Access to quality reproductive health care is a fundamental right and American value that was recently reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court in the Whole Women’s Health vs. Hellerstedt case. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is unrelenting in our mission to protect Ohio women from these dangerous attacks in Columbus and Washington.”


NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Statement on Nomination of Neil Gorsuch to US Supreme Court

Columbus, Ohio — President Trump has nominate Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “The Supreme Court is the court of last resort. Justices have a solemn responsibility to ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans, including women, workers, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and people of color. It’s the place that Americans turn time and again when government oversteps and interferes in people’s personal and private decisions. The Senate failed to even hold a hearing with the first nomination for this seat, and Americans haven’t seen much from the White House to be confident about this week. President Trump has vowed to stack the court with justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion. We need to make sure this nominee isn’t going to try to legislate from the bench, and reject the nomination if he is.

Copeland continued: “Neil Gorsuch has a clear track record of supporting an agenda that undermines abortion access and endangers women. There is no doubt that this nominee is a direct threat to Roe v. Wade and the promise it holds for women’s equality. The fact that the court has repeatedly reaffirmed Roe over the past four decades would no longer matter, just as facts often don’t seem to matter to President Trump. Confirming Gorsuch to a lifetime on the Supreme Court would make good on Trump’s repeated promises to use his appointments to overturn Roe v. Wade and punish women.”

President Trump has a long history of promising to nominate justices intent on overturning Roe v. Wade. Here is a brief background on what we know about Judge Neil Gorsuch:

Current position: judge, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Appointed by anti-choice president George W. Bush; confirmed by voice vote.
He has contributed to anti-choice elected officials including Bill Frist, John McCain, and George W. Bush.[i]
He clerked for anti-choice Associate Justice Byron White.
He also clerked for mixed-choice Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The conservative Federalist Society lists him as an “expert” on its website.[ii]
In a case challenging the Utah governor’s executive action defunding Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, Gorsuch wrote an anti-choice dissent, in which he describes the motivation for the governor’s order as based on the activities alleged in videos released in the summer of 2015, and not because of the governor’s anti-choice position.[iii]
When the Tenth Circuit decided against rehearing en banc a challenge to the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage policy (Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell), Gorsuch joined the dissenting opinion. Dissenters called the contraceptive-coverage policy a clear burden on the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion and predicted that the policy would “not long survive.”[iv]
Gorsuch concurred with the Tenth Circuit’s anti-choice ruling in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius. He wrote a concurring opinion that the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage policy required Hobby Lobby “to violate their religious faith by lending an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong.” He continues, “the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.”
He submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the American Hospital Association in a case about assisted suicide. He referenced Planned Parenthood v. Casey and wrote, in reference to public hospitals being required to provide elective abortions, “If the courts feel free to override the conscience of health care providers in that context, there is a danger they will do so here as well.”[v]
In a challenge to Oklahoma’s license-plate program, which allows for “Choose Life” license plates that fund anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, the district court dismissed the case on procedural grounds. Gorsuch ruled that although some of the charges were rightfully dismissed, others could be heard on the merits so he remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. In his opinion, he wrote: “even if [the plaintiff] were to prevail and obtain the relief sought in its amended complaint, the State would remain free to promote adoption and ensure that none of its monies go to abortion-related activities or any other activities of which it disapproves.”[vi]
He wrote a novel, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, which argued against legalization of assisted suicide on the principle that human life is intrinsically valuable and that terminating human life is always wrong.[vii]

[i] The Center for Responsive Politics, Search for donations of Neil Gorsuch, available at
[iii] Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert, No. 15-4189 (2016).
[iv] Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, No. 13-1540 (2015).
[v] Brief of Amici Curiae American Hospital Association, State of Washington v. Glucksberg, et al, WL 656278 (U.S.) (1996) (Nos. 96-220, 96-1858).
[vi] Hill v. Kemp, (WL 478 F.3d 1236), No. 05-5160 (2007).


Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Bill Returns to Ohio Statehouse

Columbus, Ohio — Attempting to violate recent, clear guidance from the US Supreme Court, state legislators have re-introduced an unconstitutional bill to place medically-unnecessary restrictions on women seeking abortion. Sponsored by Sen. Joe Uecker, Senate Bill 28 attempts to create an undue burden by forcing women to cremate or bury fetal and embryonic tissue.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “This bill would impose intrusive, cruel mandates and medically unnecessary regulations on abortion care. This bill does nothing to respect or support a woman who has made the decision to end her pregnancy. Lawmakers should respect a woman’s decision and focus on policies to improve women’s health; instead, they are mandating what a woman must do after having an abortion, regardless of her own wishes.”
Ohio already has sensible and responsible requirements for the disposal of all forms of biological tissue following medical procedures, including fetal and embryonic tissue. Abortion clinics and other health care providers already adhere to these regulations. Senate Bill 28 creates new, burdensome requirements designed to make it harder for clinics to serve their patients and is part of ongoing efforts to push abortion out of reach for Ohio women.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio statement in response to Guttmacher report

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland released the following statement in response to a report from Guttmacher Institute:

“The report from Guttmacher indicates that there are several factors in play in the reduction of the abortion rate, all of which politicians must take into consideration as they put together their legislative agendas for 2017. Increases in use of contraceptives, especially IUDs and other long acting methods has reduced the unintended pregnancy rate. On the other side of the coin you have the 18 dangerous restrictions that Kasich signed into law since he took office limiting access to care.
“As we move into 2017, politicians must not attack access to reproductive healthcare services by continuing efforts to defund Planned Parenthood or to roll back the gains we made under the Affordable Care Act. Time and time again, Governor Kasich and the Ohio legislature have put politics ahead of the health and wellbeing of women, with complete disregard for the impacts these policies will have. Congress and the Ohio legislature need to focus not on continuing these attacks, but on finding real solutions that improve health and improve a woman’s ability to make the best reproductive health decision for her.”

Report: U.S. Abortion Rate Reaches Record Low Amidst Looming Onslaught Against Reproductive Health and Rights


DeWine to Appeal Against Abortion Provider

Today, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court in a continuing effort to completely block abortion access in Northwest Ohio.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “Mike DeWine is putting politics before women health, just as he always does. Toledo’s last abortion clinic is a critical resource for women across Northwest, Ohio. His ongoing campaign to close Capital Care is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an effort to support an unconstitutional restriction on doctors. What is the point of having an attorney general in Ohio if he won’t recognize the law?”

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart and the 6th District court have each issued decisions granting Toledo’s last abortion provider the right to keep their doors open. Capital Care Network is fighting against Ohio’s medically unnecessary transfer agreement laws. Their case is supported by new legal precedent from the 2016 US Supreme Court decision, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Despite the fresh interpretation of abortion rights from the high court, DeWine is continuing to spend taxpayer resources on appealing the case.

Toledo Abortion Clinic Remains Open

The Capital Care abortion clinic can continue to serve patients, according to a Sixth District Court of Appeals of Lucas County ruling. The facility is the only abortion clinic in Northwest Ohio. The ruling upholds a lower court decision halting orders from the Ohio Department of Health to close the clinic.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland issued the following statement: “The US Supreme Court said if an abortion restriction is burdensome and does not improve care, then it is unconstitutional. Ohio’s transfer agreement requirements for abortion providers are burdensome and medically unnecessary. Today’s ruling is a common-sense decision, and protects the health of women across Northwest Ohio. John Kasich can appeal this if he wants, but he will lose. All 17 abortion restrictions he has signed into law have been purely political, and none have been based in medical science. Ohioans deserve access to safe, legal abortion care.”

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!

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