Abortion-rights advocates rally at Statehouse
By Marc Kovac
About 100 people rallied outside the Statehouse, hoping to urge lawmakers to refrain from enacting additional restrictions on abortions.
“There’s so much to be done here in Columbus to stop the bans and to protect access to women’s health care,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, one of the featured speakers at Wednesday’s rally.
Participants held signs and chanted, with hundreds of shoes displayed on the Statehouse steps — a reference to the day’s theme of “Don’t Step on Our Rights.”
“Many of the people and the opponents have never walked in our shoes,” said Rep. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo. “And until they do, they can’t understand what women face today.”
She added, “Women’s bodies are under attack in Ohio, isn’t that right? Reproductive freedom is in jeopardy in the United States, and we’re not going to stand for it any longer.”
The rally was organized by the National Council of Jewish Women and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio as a way to show their opposition to legislation pending in the Ohio House and Senate that would restrict abortions at different stages of pregnancy.
HB 69, the Heartbeat Bill, passed the House in March on a split vote.
The legislation would prohibit abortions within weeks of conception, when a fetal heartbeat is detected.
A half-dozen other abortion-related bills are planned in the House, including one that had a first hearing this week to ban the procedure if solely based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
The biennial budget bill also includes language that would reduce state funding for health care for certain needy pregnant women.
Rally speakers urged attendees to talk to lawmakers and others and make their opposition to such measures known.
“Abortion decisions should be a private decision,” Fedor said. “And I wonder which male legislator voting in favor of any laws to take away our right in theory would in real life and time take his own daughter’s freedom of choice from her if she was raped. ... Choice is a good thing, and we’re going to fight for that.”
A spokeswoman for Ohio Right to Life said afterward the rally neglected to represent those who have been aborted.
“Missing from the Statehouse steps today were the 57 million empty baby shoes representing the children who’ve been aborted since 1973 — let alone the 23,216 who were aborted in Ohio in 2013,” Katherine Franklin said in a released statement.