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WTF Ohio? A Guide to Current Legislation and Activism

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September 10, 2014

Right now, there are no clinics in Ohio with active licenses to terminate pregnancies. Every single clinic is currently out of compliance with Ohio legislation.

RH Reality Check just released a run-down on Ohio’s newly renewed anti-abortion budget yesterday. Over the past few months anti-choice legislators and activists have been engaging in attempts to shut down clinics one by one, without much interference from local lawmakers. Recent Ohio legislation has constructed a terrifying model for shutting down clinics — and it could get used by states across the country.

Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and other states have seen their fair share of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider, also known as TRAP, laws that are designed specifically to shut down provider service facilities. Fortunately for women’s health advocates, many judges have ruled that these laws are medically unnecessary and are an undue burden to a woman’s right to access a legal, safe pregnancy termination because they would shutter most of the state clinics. Meanwhile, Ohio unblocked legislation has stealthily started to shut down clinics with less, far-reaching bills.

As covered in Robin Marty’s article in The Guardian, Ohio governor, John Kasich, passed a massive budget bill in the summer of 2013 that included many abortion restrictions that were amended into the statewide budget after legislative debates.  Governor Kasich had the option to veto the bills, but he chose to approve them all, including one that gives the department of health in Ohio the right to revoke licensure to state abortion providers. This has shut down six six of the state’s fourteen clinics, and many of these cases have been because the clinics did not have transfer agreements with local hospitals.

Hospital and clinic agreements (explained in this Think Progress article) have to be made formally and “a particular hospital will take a patient in the rare case that there is a complication during or after an abortion procedure.” Transfer agreements have to be renewed yearly, unlike in the past where there have been compliance exceptions. Marty continues by explaining how difficult this is making it difficult for judges pinpoint any one case as a tipping point to where an abortion cannot be obtained. Alabama and Louisiana courts blocked these backdoor, mandated agreement bills, so WTF Ohio?

Robin Marty also explains that as of right now, the board of health could essentially choose which clinic it wants to shut down next, “until maybe, finally, a judge will say that too many clinics have been lost, and the right to an abortion in Ohio is in danger.” These anti-choice tactics that have been implemented in Ohio could essentially be used across the country, and easily enacted by states with anti-choice elected officials. When all of these restrictions are being passed and clinics are closing, we have to work together to stand up for women’s health and access to safe care.

Here are some effective ways to get involved in activism to protect the rights of women on the state level:

1. Know the facts about access to reproductive rights in your state. NARAL provides some cohesive information and statistics about what reproductive justice looks like across the country and on the local level.

2. Contact your officials and congress people. Hold them accountable! Express your concerns with current legislation and future changes that could subvert the safety of women and attempt to control women’s bodies through structural, cultural, racial, or economic constraints.

3. Organize, organize, organize! Get together with a group of other students who support your beliefs and work together to extend awareness on campus. Hold phone drives to contract elected officials, hold fundraisers for clinics, invite speakers to campus, or organize your own workshops to educate other people about reproductive justice and what’s going on legislatively in your state.

4. Get the word out about elections. Make sure people know that they have a say in their representation and know about all of the candidates positions on accessible women’s healthcare.


Note: This article has been updated to add additional citations.

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