Issues > Ohio Legislature: Health Care for Women and Families

Kasich continues ignoring women's access to reproductive health care, issue won't go away

Kasich’s State of the State Ignores Women’s Health
Governor fails to mention his policies to decrease access to
reproductive health care through political interference 

2.25.14 - Cleveland—Today Governor John Kasich delivered his annual State of the State speech with no mention of his efforts to interfere with reproductive health care through medically unnecessary laws and politically motivated maneuvers to close abortion clinics. However, this should come as no surprise given the results of theQuinnipiac poll released today which shows that 56% of Ohioans who expressed an opinion about his handling of the abortion issue disagreed with his actions.

“I guess Governor Kasich thinks if he doesn’t talk about how he is abusing his authority to close abortion clinics with exemplary safety records, that Ohioans will ignore his attacks on reproductive health care and reelect him,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “However, today’s Quinnipiac poll shows that the majority of Ohio voters who know what Kasich’s been up to don’t like it. Kasich is out of step with Ohio values, and Ohio voters will make that clear on November 4th.”

Copeland continued, “John Kasich has enacted more restrictions on access to reproductive health care than any governor in memory—including measures designed to defund Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers. Kasich’s policies are so extreme that Ohio doctors say he is endangering women’s health. Ohioans won’t allow this to continue; they will support candidates that trust women to make their own medical decisions.”



EDITORIAL:
Gov. Kasich should restore access
to reproductive health care for Ohio women:

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind/dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Cleveland
The Rev. Harry F. Knox/president, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Printed in Cleveland Plain Dealer | February 19, 2014

When Gov. John Kasich expanded Medicaid in 2013, he put Ohio’s people before politics. Now his commitment is paying off. On Jan. 1, 2014, more than 275,000 Ohioans finally gained long-awaited access to health coverage.

The governor knew that expanding Medicaid was not only the right thing to do, but also a smart move for Ohio’s economy. People who have access to preventive services, and who can go to a doctor’s office instead of the emergency room, get healthy, stay healthy, and are better able to care for their families and our communities.

Medicaid expansion closed a significant gap in the state’s health care system, but Ohio’s women still lag behind women in much of the country in one essential respect. Next week in his State of the State address, Gov. Kasich can change that by once again putting people above partisan politics and restoring access to reproductive health care.

Since restrictions on abortion and other reproductive health services took effect last summer, abortion clinics in Toledo and Cleveland have shut their doors, while a Cincinnati clinic is battling a state closure order. Organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide women with a wide range of reproductive health services have lost state funding to a new “parenting and pregnancy” initiative that allows religious organizations to omit any mention of abortion services when offering taxpayer-funded counseling to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Even when an Ohio woman can find abortion services, she must visit a clinic twice, which, as more clinics close, can mean long, expensive travel, lost wages and time away from her family. She must pay for a medically unnecessary ultrasound and hear her doctor read a government-mandated script discouraging her decision to seek an abortion. If she has been raped, her rape crisis center counselor will labor under state-mandated restrictions when informing her that she can terminate her pregnancy.

These policies have been crafted by a small number of powerful state leaders who seek to impose their conservative religious views on all Ohioans. They show no respect for women’s moral reasoning, and were supported by only 32 percent of Ohioans in an August survey by Public Policy Polling.

There’s no doubt that reproductive health, especially abortion, raises morally serious issues, and that people of good will frequently disagree about the ethical and public policy dimensions of these debates. But as faith leaders, we have seen the suffering that these punitive restrictions create in women’s lives, and we urge Gov. Kasich to ground the state’s health care policies in the everyday needs and experiences of Ohio residents, and not in partisan politics or the religious convictions of a powerful minority.

When we counsel women facing unplanned pregnancies, we talk and pray with them while they are struggling to make faithful, responsible decisions. Six in 10 women who choose to have abortions are already mothers, and often their decision to terminate a pregnancy is motivated by their responsibility to care for the children they already have. Other women are simply not able to face the physical, emotional or psychological demands of pregnancy or child rearing. Still others, after wrestling with a difficult decision, choose to give birth.

Our sacred texts and spiritual traditions command us to respond to all of these women with compassion, dignity and respect. We support reproductive justice not in spite of our faith, but because of it. While we recognize that some people of faith strongly disagree with us, we do not believe that the strength of their convictions entitles them to force choices upon other people.

We fear especially for poor women, whom God calls us to serve. They suffer disproportionately when adequate public reproductive health services are not available.

Last year, Gov. Kasich showed justice and compassion, values taught by every faith tradition, when he expanded Medicaid. This year he can show the women of Ohio that they, too, are worthy of their state’s care and respect.

Call Governor Kasich at (614) 466-3555 or text EnoughOH to 69866.
Tell him to take a stand for Ohio women and
vow to line-item veto these dangerous provisions.

 

5.30.13 - Two great Ohio newspapers editorialized about the misguided efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. You are our most important voices in the community, and we wanted you to know that all around Ohio leaders are speaking out against the elected officials in the house and senate who are trying to defund Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. This morning's editorial in The Columbus Dispatch made some excellent points:

"[Planned Parenthood] provides services in high volume at a low cost, and represents a sensible use of state health-care dollars...Not to mention giving women better access to contraception — Planned Parenthood's founding purpose — is the surest way to reduce abortions."

If you missed it, please take a moment to read the entire piece.

And The Plain Dealer agreed today that this measure should be pulled from the budget: "There's a reason Kasich's budget didn't try to exclude Planned Parenthood from federal funding for women's health care: Such a move would be a losing proposition for women, particularly those who live in poor urban and rural areas served by the agency...The Senate should bury this long-dead horse."

We are grateful that The Columbus Dispatch and The Plain Dealer have added their powerful voices to those of our patients.

Yesterday, patients testified in front of the Ohio Senate Finance Committee telling Ohio politicians why they chose Planned Parenthood for reproductive health care. Tomorrow, more patients will come forward to testify against the plan to defund Planned Parenthood.

You can help us continue to fight. Contact Governor Kasich at 614-466-3555 and let him know what you think. Tell him to stop this nonsense.

As always, we are deeply appreciative of your continued support!

Gratefully yours,
Jennifer C. Gregg
Senior Director of Developmen

 

5.16.13 - The right-wing in Ohio is trying to defund Planned Parenthood again.

The last time they tried this, we helped kill the bill by pressuring lawmakers. But now they’re at it again.

Even though Gov. Kasich’s latest budget keeps funding for women’s healthcare intact, a revision by House Republicans attaches language to defund Planned Parenthood.1

After gutting the Medicaid expansion in Kasich’s budget -- which would have provided health insurance for over 450,000 Ohio residents while saving the state billions in tax dollars -- Ohio House Speaker Batchelder brought back the same deplorable attack on Planned Parenthood from last year, which would strip crucial funding from clinics that provide low-cost reproductive healthcare to Ohio women.

Call Gov. Kasich and tell him to issue a line-item veto threat on the Republican budget that defunds Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics. Click here for a sample script and the number to call.

Each year, Planned Parenthood in Ohio receives over a million dollars in Department of Health funds to provide critical health care services for over 100,000 low-income women, like affordable birth control, prenatal care, cancer screenings, family planning services, and services for survivors of domestic violence.2

This funding is not for abortion services. Ohio House Republicans want to deny women access to crucial health care services. Defunding Planned Parenthood in Ohio would jeopardize cancer prevention screenings, STI care, hypertension testing, and many of the preventative measures the organization provides to low-income women.3

The attacks on Planned Parenthood are part and parcel of a national extremist vendetta against the organization, and the women who depend on its clinics for basic care. Anti-choice organizations, politicians and activists are relentless, and they are conducting a state-by-state campaign to undermine Planned Parenthood in state legislatures around the country, no matter what the cost to women's health.

The House Republicans are going after their own Republican governor’s budget. But Gov. Kasich can line-item veto the language that defunds Planned Parenthood and defend his original budget. We need him to promise to use that power and stop the right-wing from defunding women’s access to health care.

Tell Gov. Kasich: Don't let Republicans in the Ohio House throw women's health under the bus just because national anti-choice groups want to score another victory in their vendetta against Planned Parenthood. Click the link below for a simple script and the number to call:
http://act.credoaction.com/go/489?t=4&akid=7933.5572283.CCEaSj

Every time and everywhere Planned Parenthood is attacked, we need to fight back. Please help us stop this latest effort to destroy Planned Parenthood and block women's access to health care.

Thank you for standing up for Planned Parenthood and Ohio women.

Jordan Krueger, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Click below for a sample script and the number to call:

Take action now ►

1. Brandon Blackwell, "Ohio House Republicans scrap much of Gov. John Kasich's budget proposal." The Plain Dealer, April 9, 2013
2. Jim Siegel, ""House panel might move to cut funding for Planned Parenthood today." The Columbus Dispatch, 11-14-12.
3. Ezra Klein, ""Repost: What Planned Parenthood actually does, in one chart." Wonkblog, 02-02-12.

 

4.18.13 - Just moments ago, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to pass the state budget, Sub HB 59. The Ohio House made the sensible decision to remove the vague restrictions related to comprehensive sex education from the Ohio budget; however, the measures that hurt the most vulnerable women, limiting their access to health care remain.


4.17.13
- Yesterday, the Ohio House Finance & Appropriations Committee passed the state budget bill. Despite an attempt by our legislative allies to strike the Planned Parenthood defunding language, it remains intact.

Governor Kasich's allies in the State House were hard at work sending women's health and sex education back to the Stone Age. The latest Republican attack is so utterly bizarre and ridiculous you just might not believe it.

A new bizarre amendment on so called 'gateway sexual activity' was added to the budget to impose limits on comprehensive sex education. This proposal would fine educators $5,000 if they teach a medically-accurate, age-appropriate comprehensive sex education curriculum.  

In other words, the GOP effort would prohibit all comprehensive sexual education from our schools! In addition, if an organization supports anything other than abstinence, they'd be banned from classrooms. 

This is outrageous! Send your selected officials an email to demand they stop these attacks on women and teens.

 

04.10.13 - The Ohio House Finance & Appropriations Committee released its substitute budget bill reallocating family planning funds from trusted health care providers such as Planned Parenthood. 

Once again legislators are playing politics with women's health care. Funds that currently go to Planned Parenthood health centers for preventive care would be given to other providers first.

Show Ohio you want to protect women's access to health care. This is not a partisan issue—women don't come to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement. Your voice is critical in this fight.

Adding insult to injury, the budget amendment appears to hand these funds over to "crisis pregnancy centers" that often provide misleading information to women who are deciding whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child. Medical decisions are personal and should be left to a woman, her family, her faith, and her health care provider—not politicians.

Take action now by calling Governor Kasich. Tell him to take a stand and commit to line-item veto the Planned Parenthood defunding language. His number is (614) 466-3555. Help protect access to care for more than 100,000 Planned Parenthood patients today!Log your call here so we know just how many of you took action. We won’t be ignored!

Thank you for your support.

 Sincerely,
Stephanie Kight
President and CEO
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio 

 

Many single women, a key bloc, are avoiding GOP
By By NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Associated Press
AP Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this report.

12.15.12 - DENVER (AP) — Sara Stevenson (photo to the left) spends her working hours surrounded by Republicans, namely the married men who work alongside her in a Denver oil and gas firm company. But after hours and on weekends, she usually spends her time with other single women, and there's not a Republican in sight among the bunch.

"There was just no way I could have supported any Republican this year," said Stevenson, 31. "They skew so much to the religious right. ... They focused so much on taxes. It's not something that women in my demographic really care about. I've never heard my friends lament their taxes."

As Republicans dust off their Election Day drubbing last month, their party must confront the reality that the ranks of unmarried women are growing rapidly, and these voters overwhelmingly have backed Democrats for decades.

Women increasingly are graduating from college and joining the workforce, and postponing marriage. From 2000 to 2010, the number of unmarried women increased 18 percent, according to census data.

Republicans have spent the past month tallying up all their demographic weak spots, including with Hispanics and Asian-Americans. But some warn that single women, already one-quarter of the electorate, represent the most serious threat to the party's viability.

"It's a faster-growing demographic than most others," said Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster. "That's a cultural zeitgeist that demands a political response."

In 1960, the average American woman married at age 20. Now it's 27. That reflects, and is partly the cause of, a boom in solo living, with nearly one-third of all U.S. households comprised of single people living alone, according to Eric Klinenberg, a New York University sociologist and author of a book on the subject. In 1950, it was 9 percent.

Around the world, as women gain more education and earn more money, they increasingly are delaying marriage, said Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and is director of research for the Council on Contemporary Families. "Nowadays, women don't feel so driven to get married because they can support themselves," she said. "A lot of this is driven by women and a combination of lowering payoffs to just marrying any man and rising expectations" of what marriage will bring, she added.

For decades, Conway said, Democrats targeted unmarried women while the GOP dismissed them.

In the Nov. 6 election, President Barack Obama's campaign targeted this group in a series of direct mail and email pieces featuring the singer Beyonce and activist Lily Ledbetter, whose name was on the first bill Obama signed, making it easier for women to sue over unequal pay. The campaign also released an online video by actor and writer Lena Dunham that compared a woman's first time voting to losing her virginity.

Now, Conway said, "the Republicans have to decide if they want a one-party response or a two-party response."

In a presidential election dominated by debates over women's health and abortion, unmarried women backed Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by a 67-31 margin. Since 1992, when exit polls began identifying single voters, unmarried women have favored Democrats by similar margins.

Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who wrote a book with Conway on the women's vote, said unmarried women are a tough group for the GOP to crack.

"Any way you cut it, this demographic is much more on their own and much more precarious and much more interested in a safety net," Lake said. "If you're married, you're much more likely to be a churchgoer and have your church as a community. If you're married, you're much more likely to have owned your home for a while and have that community to rely on. If you're married, you're more likely to have your spouse to depend on."

Single men are also significantly more likely to back Democrats than Republicans, but that is largely a function of their age, because they are largely younger. Unmarried women, however, are more evenly spread across all age groups and consistently lean Democratic, said Page S. Gardner, president of the Voter Participation Center, which tries to increase voting by single women. They also are much more likely to support abortion rights.

In Colorado, Democrats have assiduously focused on abortion and other health issues to win support from both married and single women. In 2010, Sen. Michael Bennet defied the Republican wave by hammering his tea party challenger on his opposition to abortion rights. This year, Obama campaigned in the state with activist Sandra Fluke, an unmarried law student branded a "slut" by commentator Rush Limbaugh for testifying before Congress in support of requiring that employer-provided health insurance covers contraception.

The Obama campaign attacked Romney on the airwaves over his refusal to support the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his opposition to federal dollars for Planned Parenthood and his opposition to abortion rights.

Katy Atkinson, a GOP consultant in Denver, said that two elections in a row should be a warning sign for the GOP.

"That whole fighting social issues with economic issues just doesn't work," she said. Atkinson noted that both Romney, as well as Bennet's opponent, Ken Buck, contended that women really cared about pocketbook issues rather than reproductive issues. "While women care about pocketbook issues, they don't want to elect an extremist."

Conway said the GOP can win over unmarried women on economic matters. "What do women, married or unmarried, do every week?" Conway asked. "Do they fill up the gas tank or get an abortion?"

Lauren Koebcke, 32, is a glimmer of hope for Republicans. She is single, favors gay marriage and abortion rights but sides with the GOP on economic issues. The bad news for the GOP is that she's the only one of her single friends who votes Republican.

"Most people I know are Democrats and most Democrats I know are single," said Koebcke, a project manager in Austin, almost 300 miles west of Denver. "Most Republicans want home and hearth. They want babies and that family life."

Stevenson isn't sure whether she wants a family. "Most of us didn't make any money until we were 26 year old and we want to enjoy ourselves," she said. She logs 11 hour days analyzing legal issues for her energy company. "I can't imagine coming home and having to cook dinner and deal with someone else's problems," she said. "I'm not there yet."

She also knows that Republicans won't be getting her vote anytime soon.

Republican Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana infuriated her when they tried to explain why they think rape victims shouldn't be allowed to have abortions. Stevenson stayed up late on election night just to confirm that they both lost.

The women's issues that Obama emphasized, such as equal pay for women and contraception coverage, are pocketbook issues to Stevenson. The fact that GOP candidates denigrated them as social issues just shows how out of touch the GOP is, she said.

"There are just so many off-putting comments from the Republican party," Stevenson said. "It's crazy to me that they're still acting as if women are a niche market."

Doctors saying new laws interfering with care

OH Abortion Law signed by Governor John Kasich Forces Doctors to Get Legal Advice
Before Helping Patient....
 As Kasich spokesman claims the Governor "has done more for women's health than any recent Governor"


FACT CHECK: 

"Some doctors say new laws limiting abortions in Ohio are interfering with the care they give women facing heartbreaking circumstances. Even those who oppose abortion say that before giving their best medical advice, they may need to call a lawyer...'Doctors can't give their best advice in some situations because of possible repercussions of the law,' Dr. Phil Cass, chief executive officer of the Columbus Medical Association," [Columbus Dispatch, 2/9/2014]
 
"..doctors — even those who personally oppose abortion — now feel they must consult a lawyer before dispensing medical advice to their patients....'Nobody likes to end a pregnancy for a fetal problem,' [Dr.] Melillo said. 'But it’s worse to leave a patient without medical care because doctors are afraid of violating the law.'" [Salon, 2/21/2014]
 
"Ohio’s abortion restrictions tie for eighth in the nation in their breadth, according to an analysis of state laws by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for abortion rights....said Elizabeth Nash, Guttmacher’s state issues manager. 'We are seeing restrictions enacted that can eliminate access to abortion without overturning Roe v. Wade.'...Ohio had 14 abortion clinics at the start of 2013. In part because of new abortion restrictions passed last year, that number could soon dwindle to seven, with none in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, the state’s most populous.” [Cincinnati Inquirer, 2/9/2014]
 
 
Second Cabinet Member to leave Kasich's Administration abruptly in past month 
OP-ED:  Wymyslo served despite politics 
Saturday February 8, 2014 | 6:33 AM

I was very disappointed to read in Wednesday’s Dispatch of Ted Wymyslo’s coming departure from state government as the director of health.

Although I now am retired from the Ohio Department of Health, it was my privilege to have been Dr. Wymyslo’s chief of the Bureau of Community Health Care Facilities and Services, a position in which I had responsibility for the regulation of ambulatory surgical facilities, which included abortion clinics.

It bothers me that anyone could have the impression that Wymyslo failed to “put health over politics.” I am sure that when Wymyslo became director of health, his primary goals were protecting Ohio residents and improving their health to the best of his ability and the capabilities of his department.

I am equally sure that he did not fully realize the obstacles that would be put in his path, be it misinformed legislators, radical members of the governor’s staff, or a governor himself hell-bent on self-promotion and re-election.

I had and still have great respect for Wymyslo, although I did have one bone to pick with him: his reluctance to tell the governor what he could do with the directorship and cabinet position when, on many occasions, it was apparent that politics, not health care, was the administration’s primary concern.

I always said that if I were a physician with numerous avenues open to me, I would never allow myself to be treated as I observed the director of health being treated.

The abortion clinic alluded to in the article which “thrust [Wymyslo] into the middle of the debate” was losing its license not for any serious or even truly legitimate reason, but for politics, be they Sharonville politics, current state-administration politics, or special-interest politics. As one who was on the front line of the issue who had the bruises to show it, I can say without hesitation that Wymyslo’s perceived influence is mere fiction and that he really had little to say and even less latitude in the direction the matter was to take.

I wish Wymyslo the very best in continuing to promote patient-centered medical homes and in practicing the very best in health care, wherever his practice may take him.

ROY D. CROY
Columbus

Ohio Supreme Court upholds Medicaid Expansion - only through fiscal year ending June 2015

(Photo left - Ohio Supreme Court, Columbus) - An action filed this afternoon with the Ohio Supreme Court seeks to overturn the Controlling Board's decision money to allow the administration of Gov. John Kasich to spend federal aid provided to cover expansion of Medicaid in the state.

 

Ohio Supreme Court upholds Ohio Controlling Board Medicaid expansion  
By  Catherine Candisky | The Columbus Dispatch 

12.20.13 - The Ohio Supreme Court upheld Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to an estimated 275,000 poor, uninsured Ohioans today.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court found that the state Controlling Board, a bipartisan legislative panel that oversees government spending, acted within state law when it accepted federal aid to fund the expansion.

“The (groups challenging the expansion) fail in their quest because they have not adequately shown that the Controlling Board had a clear legal duty to follow the directives of the legislature when those directives are not expressed in the final, enrolled bill,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote in a 15-page decision

The three dissenting justices – Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Sharon Kennedy and Judy French – said they would have dismissed the case without issuing a ruling on its merits.

“The role of the judiciary is to decide legal questions,” O’Donnell wrote. “This case, however, involves a political question concerning whether a legislative agency acted contrary to the policy goals of the General Assembly.”

Two anti-abortion groups and six Republican lawmakers filed suit last month to block expansion after the Controlling Board – a panel of six lawmakers and one appointee of the governor – voted 5-2 to approve the expenditure of $2.56 billion in federal aid. The spending authority was sought by the Kasich administration to use funds available through the Affordable Care Act to states agreeing to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Conservative legislators and abortion foes argued Ohio would face “dire budgetary consequences” and that the Controlling Board improperly overrode the GOP-led General Assembly, which had rejected Kasich’s proposal to extend coverage to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – just under $16,000 a year for an individual.

State attorneys claimed that the Controlling Board and state Medicaid Director John McCarthy, a Kasich-appointee who submitted the spending request, both acted within their authority. The lawsuit, attorneys stressed, challenged the decision to accept the federal funds and not the decision to expand Medicaid.

O’Connor noted that Kasich vetoed a provision in the budget that would have blocked the expansion, and the legislature did not attempt to override that veto. Blocking the administration’s action through the Controlling Board would amount to a back-door veto override.

“The General Assembly would have the power to command the Controlling Board, in all cases, to disregard the governor’s veto in the implementation of appropriations,” she wrote. “This interpretation is clearly contrary to the ‘checks and balances’ that are critical to our constitutional democracy.”

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will cover 100 percent of expansion costs for three years beginning Jan. 1 and 90 percent or more after that, bringing an estimated $13 billion in federal money to Ohio during the next seven years. Opponents, however, say the federal government doesn’t have the money and could stick states with the bill. 

The state Medicaid program currently covers nearly 2.4 million poor Ohioans, mostly children, parents and the disabled. The 275,000 gaining eligibility beginning Jan. 1 are primarily adults under age 64 without dependent children.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

12.18.13 - Late yesterday, the coalition that has been working on this petition drive decided to not go forward with it - the committee has withdrawn and disbanded which effectively stops any further gathering of signatures.  There are several reasons why, but the major one is due to the Ohio Controlling Board expanding Medicaid at least through the end of Ohio's fiscal year ending June 2015.  Even though there is still room for further Medicaid expansion through 2019-2020, there are other avenues that are being explored and considered that may get the GOP Ohio Legislators back involved in the process/decision as they should have been in the first place.

If you have petitions, please drop them off at the law offices of Tone, Grubbe, McGory, Vermeeren Law Offices, 1401 Cleveland Road, Sandusky 44870 - next to the A-1 Rental Company.  If the office is not open, just drop the petition booklet in the mail slot in the front door area.  All petitions will be boxed and shipped to Columbus for accounting and shredded. Please drop off no later than January 3, 2014.  

Again, all your assistance with this project is GREATLY appreciated.  I will keep everyone informed of any developments.  THANK YOU for all your time and effort with this important program that will affect thousands of Ohioans.

 

An initiated statute campaign – led by a broad-based, non-partisan coalition known as the Ohio Alliance for Health Transformation including businesses, unions, health-care providers, religious organizations, consumer groups and advocates for the uninsured – has been launched to pressure the Ohio Legislature to take the expansion of Medicaid back up.  If the legislature fails to take any action on the issue, then additional signatures will be gathered to place the extension of Medicaid beyond June 2015 - through 2019 - before voters on the November 2014 ballot.

 

Ohio Medicaid Expansion Plan Challenged in Lawsuit
By Andrew Harris | Bloomberg

10.23.13 - Ohio Governor John Kasich's plan to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, approved two days ago by a state legislative panel, was challenged in a lawsuit brought by a group of Ohio lawmakers.

Six Republican state representatives, joined by anti-abortion organizations based in Cleveland and Cincinnati, filed the complaint challenging the panel’s action yesterday at the state’s Supreme Court in Columbus.

The plaintiffs asked Ohio’s top court to void the Ohio Controlling Board action, arguing it exceeds that body’s lawful authority. Kasich, a first-term Republican, sought approval from the board after he was unable to persuade his party members who control the state legislature to agree to the plan.

Read entire article here.

The case is State, ex rel. Cleveland Right to Life Inc. v. State of Ohio Controlling Board, 13-1668, Ohio Supreme Court (Columbus); view entire suit here.

 

Controlling Board gives ok to use of federal money to pay for Medicaid expansion in Ohio
By Robert Higgs, Northeast Ohio Media Group

10.22.13 - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The state Controlling Board on Monday approved a spending request from Gov. John Kasich’s administration that clears the way for the state to expand Medicaid to cover Ohio’s working poor.

By a vote of 5-2, the board gave approval for the Department of Medicaid to tap into $2.5 billion the federal government has authorized for Ohio to cover the costs of expanding the Medicaid program for this fiscal year and next.

But the governor’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature steadfastly refused to grant the expansion. Some have cited opposition to such a major expansion of a public support program. Others have cited concern about size of the national debt. General opposition to health care reform, commonly called Obamacare, also is a reason.

Ohio law requires that before money can be spent, it must be formally be appropriated. Typically that is done through a vote of the General Assembly. But the Controlling Board also has the authority to adjust appropriations as needed. In this case, it would involve authority to spend the newly received federal revenues.

Read entire article here.

 

Working People Ready for Medicaid Expansion, By Board or Ballot
SEIU District 1199 continues to lead ballot effort for initiative statute

10.11.13 - COLUMBUS, OHIO – In response to the decision by the Kasich Administration to seek approval by the Ohio Controlling Board for Medicaid Expansion, Service Employees International Union District 1199 President Becky Williams has issued the following statement:

"Today's announcement by the administration is welcomed news for working people and their families across the state of Ohio, who have been advocating for months for the full expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. If the Controlling Board approves this proposal, over 275,000 working people in this state will have access to healthcare – some for the first time in their adult lives."

"Working people need and deserve access to healthcare and will accept it either by [Controlling] Board or ballot. That's why I am proud that SEIU District 1199 has been and will continue to be leading the fight for Medicaid Expansion." 

"Let there be no doubt that the Controlling Board is not a sure thing for approving the administration's proposal and there will likely be legal challenges from opponents of Medicaid Expansion that could delay its implementation. For that reason and because, as an organization, we committed to this cause, we fully intend to continue our initiated statute campaign for the expansion of Medicaid and will not rest until either the Controlling Board approves it or we place the matter before voters next fall."

 

Kasich Administration will seek state Controlling Board's
ok to use Federal funding to expand Medicaid in Ohio
Robert Higgs | Northeast Ohio Media Group

10.11.13 - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Kasich administration will ask the controlling board at its next meeting for authority to spend about $2.5 billion in federal aid over the next two years to expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover Ohio’s working poor.

Approval from the board, which meets Oct. 21, would clear the last hurdle toward expanding Medicaid in Ohio to cover people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. That group would be able to start getting health insurance coverage on Jan. 1, 2014, said Greg Moody, director of the state’s Office of Health Transformation.

Read entire article here.


Controlling Board Members

130th General Assembly

 

Sen. Bill Coley-R
Senate Building, Room 140, 
First Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-8072 
Email Senator Coley
Aide: Emily Morrison

Sen. Chris Widener-R
Senate Building, Room 138,
First Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-3780 
Email Senator Widener
Aide: Bryan Stout

Sen. Tom Sawyer-D
Senate Building, Room 049, 
First Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-7041 
Email Senator Sawyer
Aide: Kelsey Bergfeld


Rep. Ron Amstutz-R
Riffe Center, 13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-1474
Email Representative Amstutz 
Aide: Jason Whalen


Rep. Cliff Rosenberger-R
Riffe Center, 13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-3506
Email Representative Rosenberger
Aide: Benjamin Webb

Rep. Chris Redfern-D
Riffe Center, 10th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 644-6011
Email Representative Redfern
Aide: Valarie Johnson
 
Randy Cole, President

30 E. Broad St., 34th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-3457
(614) 728-8778
Randy.Cole@obm.state.oh.us

Anne Dean, Executive Secretary

30 E. Broad St., 34th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-3457
(614) 466-5721
Anne.Dean@obm.state.oh.us

 

 

Process to get Medicaid on statewide ballot begins
Catherine Candisky | The Columbus Dispatch 

9.04.13 - A coalition of health-care providers, unions, businesses, religious organizations and other advocates for the uninsured announced the launch of a campaign that could send Gov. John Kasich’s proposed Medicaid expansion to the November 2014 statewide ballot.

Healthy Ohioans Work says it will file with the state Attorney General today its initial petition for a citizens’ initiated statute containing the signatures of about 5,800 registered voters, nearly six times the 1,000 required.

“This action does not mean that we have given up on the General Assembly,” Jon Allison, spokesman for Healthy Ohioans Work, said at a Statehouse press conference.

Read entire article here.



Preventing a vote on Medicaid hurts the poor, not the president
Thomas Suddes commentary | The Columbus Dispatch

9.01.13 - Speaker William G. Batchelder, a Medina Republican, keeps delaying Ohio House action on Gov. John Kasich’s bid to expand Medicaid in Ohio. And if Batchelder’s House won’t act, the state Senate, also Republican-run, won’t either.

Increasingly it’s evident Batchelder just wants the whole subject to go away, though it’s mathematically possible to build a House coalition to pass Medicaid there, which would require at least 50 (of 99) House votes. One formula: All 39 Democrats, plus 11 (preferably a few more) Republicans.

 Read entire article here.

 

Ohio could save and expand Medicaid, study says
By Joe Vardon | The Columbus Dispatch

8.14.13 - The state could expand its Medicaid program to cover more poor Ohioans and save money over the long haul, according to a new study presented yesterday to a Senate subcommittee.

The savings could be big, too: $200 million next year and nearly $4 billion by 2025, according to the study done by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio and Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

Read entire article here

Read entire study and other analysis by Amy Rohling McGee, President, Health Policy Institute of Ohio andWilliam Hayes, PhD, The Ohio State University - Medicaid resources | The Health Policy Institute of Ohio

 

House Denies Healthcare Services to Ohio's Most Vulnerable
Innovation Ohio  

  • By refusing to expand Medicaid, House Republicans would penalize Ohio hospitals, cost the state $13 billion in federal money over the next 7 years, leave 275,000 low-income Ohioans uninsured, and lose $400 million in taxpayer savings over the next 2 years.
  • New England Journal of Medicine study says Medicaid expansion would save 3,400 Ohio lives annually. Which means 10,000 Ohio lives will be needlessly lost over the next three years --- when the federal government would be picking up 100% of the costs.
  • The House blocks funding for Planned Parenthood, a vital source of healthcare services for thousands of low-income women.
  • House Republicans and their Tea Party allies aren't interested in what makes moral and economic sense; they are only interested in blasting "Obamacare" and re-fighting the last election. They are, in the words of former Republican Gov. Bob Taft's Chief of Staff, "putting politics over people."

Governor Kasich continues anti-choice attacks through Ohio Medical Board appointments

Below is the full version of Kellie Copeland’s, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director,
guest post on Plunderbund, which is a great call to action for all Ohioans.

Ohioans should be very concerned over Kasich’s Medical Board appointments
By Guest Post On September 9, 2013 

Regardless of your position on abortion rights, you should view Gov. John Kasich’s appointments to the Ohio State Medical Board with great concern.

Governors appoint members of the board, which is tasked with protecting patients by licensing certain medical providers and disciplining those who undermine patient care.

Kasich, however, is using his discretion to quietly stack the panel with members who appear to be most interested in promoting their anti-abortion views – even if it means undercutting Ohio’s vital health care sector.

If these appointees occurred in a vacuum, I would not be quite so concerned. But this governor has enacted a string of new restrictions on abortion care and repeatedly refused to take a position on the so-called heartbeat bill which is so extreme and potentially harmful to patients and doctors that the overwhelmingly anti-choice Ohio Senate refused to pass it.

Today, just 10 of the 12 Medical Board slots are filled, and three of the 10 are well-known opponents of abortion.  Kasich has filled two of the designated consumer slots with Michael Gonidakis, who heads Ohio Right to Life, and former Ohio Right to Life board member Laurie Elsass.  In April, Kasich tapped cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Sushil M. Sethi, for one of the nine physician slots.

In July, when the board discussed licensing for genetic counselors, Dr. Sethi sounded more like an Ohio Right To Life representative than a heart surgeon.  According to minutes of the meeting:

“Dr. Sethi asked how the practice of genetic counseling will affect the abortion rate as more tests are developed to detect the possibility of a genetic disease in an unborn child….”

Dr. Shawn McCandless, a member of the genetics faculty at Case Western Reserve, responded: 

Dr. McCandless “opined that there is greater potential for limiting the conception of children with genetic defects than there is to increase the demand for termination.”

“Dr. Sethi asked if there are any ethical behavior controls for genetic counselors to prevent them from swaying their patients decisions regarding abortion. “

 “Dr. McCandless stated that genetic counselors have very clear and demanding ethical standards. Dr. McCandless stated that any genetic counselor who is advocating abortion or, in some way, is pushing a person to have an abortion would be in danger of losing their certification. Ethically, genetic counselors are required …  to inform patients of all legal options in a factual manner, including informing them of the many happy families who have raised a child with the genetic defect in question, as well as options for adoption. Dr. McCandless opined that there is a misconception that geneticists and genetic counselors think that abortion is a good thing.”

More than a dozen states license genetic counselors. While licensing requirements vary, each state requires a detailed set of rules that resulted from much debate.  Was Dr. Sethi really unaware of the ethical requirements common in the genetic testing field?

Joining Dr. Sethi in his concerns was fellow medical board member Mr. Gonidakis who asked “if the rapid increase in autism and the many theories as to its cause’’ could cause genetic counselors  into “ scaring couples into making decisions that probably are not the right decisions.’’

Dr. McCandless responded by saying, “counselors will serve patients by answering their questions in a factual and straight forward manner.’’

Medical board members should know that all doctors better serve patients with factual and straight-forward answers.

 

 Ohio Anti-Choice Sneak Attack
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is fighting back

12.03.12 - Don’t think for a second that Republicans have backed off from their War on Women.  Instead Governor Kasich announced he appointed the Chair of Ohio Right to Life – an extreme anti-choice, anti-woman group – to one of just seven seats on the committee to appoint a new Ohio Supreme Court Justice (see story above).  In addition, Governor Kasich has decided to appoint the president of Ohio Right to Life to the State Medical Board! 

Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Kellie Copeland protested the appointments, saying Kasich’s choices proved he was “playing a more active role in the war on women than Ohioans realize.”

Michael L. Gonidakis will serve through July of 2017 with zero medical credentials. He is a lawyer best known as head of Ohio Right to Life. Despite polling and election results showing that Ohio remains strongly pro-choice, anti-choice Governor Kasich continues to use his discretion to curry favor with extremist groups such as Right to Life.

Mr. Gonidakis joins another Kasich consumer appointee on the medical board, Laurie O. Elsass, wife of Kasich media consultant Rex Elsass. Mr. Elsass is best known for his hitting-below-the-belt TV ads - i.e. the ad on behalf of Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Cupp that accused his Democratic challenger, Justice-Elect Bill O'Neill, of being soft on rapists and for trying to help Todd Akin recover from his “legitimate rape’’ mistake.  In addition, Mrs. Elsass sits on the Ohio Right to Life Board.

During their 5-year terms, Gonidakis and Elsass will have the power to deny or revoke licenses from Ohio doctors. With no medical expertise, Gonidakis has made it clear he is willing to distort medical information to fit his agenda. Just a few months ago, he falsely claimed that “not one abortion last year, and the report just came out a few weeks ago, not one abortion was due to rape, incest, or the life of the mothers.” This assertion was disputed by practicing OB-GYNs.

This shows, more than ever, that Governor Kasich and his friends will do whatever it takes to sneak through their extreme agenda: limiting women’s health care options, defunding planned parenthood, and taking away a woman’s right to determine what she does with her body.  The last thing women need is someone who will inject divisive, single-issue politics into the regulation of medical practice in Ohio. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is fighting back against this appointment.

Please sign the petition to demand Governor Kasich to withdraw the appointment of Mike Gonidakis to the State Medical Board.  Sign the petition here.

Thank you for taking the time to speak out to protect women’s health and rights!

Ohio GOP continues war on women with 'heartbeat' bill .... again

HB 248 - 'heartbeat' bill
As Introduced
Assigned to Ohio House Health and Aging Committee
Chairman Lynn Wachtmann (R) is also bill's main sponsor


Ohio House to reintroduce 'heartbeat' bill - again
The Columbus Dispatch - Wire Reports

8.15.13 - State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, the previous sponsor of the bill, told the Associated Press that he and others will announce plans to reintroduce the so-called heartbeat bill at a news conference today.
 
The measure had fiercely divided Ohio’s anti-abortion community, with some fearing a court challenge could undo other abortion restrictions already in place. It also energized abortion-rights groups, who rallied against it.
 
Read entire article here.

  

HB 200 - Ohio Budget 2014-2015
As Introduced

 

6.27.13 - Tonight, legislators cast their final vote on Ohio's state budget for 2014-2015.
Thanks to Governor Kasich's friends, the worst budget bill is on its way to the Governor for his final review and signature. 
This is the last chance to stop the worst legislative proposals in the nation from being signed into law.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Ohio's women need professional medical testing, treatment, and answers from the doctor they trustEmail Gov. Kasich right now and ask him to line-item veto these attacks on women’s health care. Join other Ohioans in this "virtual lobby day" to contact Gov. Kasich RIGHT NOW.

 

State Rep. Ron Hood links abortion and breast cancer in legislation 
Receives rating of Pants on Fire
PolitiFact Ohio

6.24.13 - A group of Ohio House Republicans has introduced legislation aimed at reducing abortions through an extensive list of restrictions and requirements.

Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, the sponsor of the legislation, House Bill 200, said he drafted it based on talks with the National Pro-Life Alliance. He said it was intended to make women more aware of what they are doing to "make an informed choice."

Among its provisions, the bill would require abortion providers to tell patients about "the increased risk of breast cancer" from abortion.

PolitiFact Ohio wanted to know more about that warning. We called to ask Hood for the source.

His legislative aide referred us to the website of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, an advocacy group that asserts there has been a "cover-up" of a link between abortion and breast cancer.

A review of the website shows that the group's case for a link is supported largely by the work of Dr. Joel Brind, a member of the group's advisory board, who is a professor of biochemistry at Baruch College in New York City and is recognized as the leading proponent of an abortion-breast cancer link; and Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast cancer surgeon in New Jersey who, with Brind, co-founded the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute to help publicize what is sometimes called the ABC (for abortion-breast cancer) link.

review of the history shows their work is a significant part of what has been called "abortion politics."

Research on a possible connection had been going on for decades when Brind published an analysis in the 1990s that suggested a link between induced abortion (the deliberate ending of a pregnancy) and an increased risk of breast cancer.

But the analysis was based on studies that relied on survey interviews of women, which were widely questioned because of factors including "response bias" --  the inaccurate self-reporting of medical history information by participants.

Subsequent studies using larger groups and data not subject to bias found no link, according to sources including the National Cancer Institute.

In 2003, largely because of political questions raised over the "ABC link," the NCI convened a three-day conference of experts on abortion and cancer. Based on a review of population-based, clinical and animal studies, they concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.

Hood also pointed specifically to a 2009 paper by Lanfranchi about the mechanisms of cancer. It asserted that a prematurely ended pregnancy leaves a woman with more cancer-susceptible breast tissue than when the pregnancy began.

Also in 2009, however, the Committee on Gynecologic Practice of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded that "more rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk."

PolitiFact does not do medical or scientific analysis. We rely, as we do in other areas, on the most reliable and independent sources available.

The World Health Organization says that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society says: "scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer."

The Susan. G. Komen Foundation says there is no link.

The National Cancer Institute gives its highest strength-of-evidence ratings to the statements that:

  • Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.

  • Recognized spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.

  • Women who have had an induced abortion have the same risk of breast cancer as other women.

  • Women who have had a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) have the same risk of breast cancer as other women.

  • Cancers other than breast cancer also appear to be unrelated to a history of induced or spontaneous abortion.

The credible research overwhelmingly contradicts the statement in Hood’s legislation. It’s a ridiculous claim, and even more ridiculous to force doctors to spread this misinformation to patients. Pants on Fire!


WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please contact the members of the Ohio Health and Aging Committee and tell them how wrong this legislation is for the women of our state. You can find a list of committee members at: here

 

"Wait and see," is what Gov. Kasich said when asked if he will approve the attacks on women's reproductive health care in the state budget.

Wait and see?

Ohio women and families can't "wait and see" how the cuts to preventive health care will effect their lives.

  • When a woman finds a lump in her breast, how long should she "wait and see" before getting it checked?
  • When a woman thinks she has an STD, how long should she "wait and see" before getting tested?
  • When a woman thinks she's pregnant, how long should she "wait and see"before getting the answers she needs?

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Ohioans need professional medical testing, treatment, and answers from the doctor they trustEmail Gov. Kasich right now and ask him to line-item veto these attacks on women’s health care. Join other Ohioans in this "virtual lobby day" to contact Gov. Kasich.

When it comes to someone’s health care, we should never “wait and see.”

Email Gov. Kasich right now

 

Ohio Republicans Introduce One of the Nation's All-Time Worst Abortion Bills 
By Tara Culp-Ressler | ThinkProgress

6.13.13 - Ohio Republicans are already attempting to hijack the state’s budget process to push for abortion restrictions, advancing a version of Gov. John Kasich’s budget bill that includes amendments to defund Planned Parenthood and shut down abortion clinics. But they’re not stopping there. Now, a group of 35 Republican lawmakers in the House have introduced an omnibus anti-abortion bill that combines some of the worst attacks on women’s reproductive health into a single measure.

Read full article here.

 

Think Progress has posted an overview of what is being described as "One of the Nation's All-Time Worst Abortion Bills," which includes the following:

  • Mandates invasive ultrasounds, and forces women to pay for the cost of the extra procedure themselves.
  • Requires doctors to describe the ultrasound images to women seeking abortions, including details about the fetal heartbeat.
  • Extends the waiting period for abortion to 48 hours, and eliminates the option for women to bypass it because of a medical emergency.
  • Requires doctors to tell women scientifically disputed information about abortion risks.
  • Requires doctors to tell patients how much money they earn from each abortion procedure
  • Punishes doctors who don't comply with the new restrictions with a felony charge and up to a $1 million dollar fine.

Read more:

 


Ohio GOP Continues Attacks on Women With Forced
Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill

6.13.13 - COLUMBUS, OHIO – In response to Ohio Republicans’ introduction of a bill that would force medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds on women, Ohio Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Liz Brown released the following statement:

“In what world did Republicans decide that forcing invasive transvaginal ultrasounds, lectures, and flat-out lies to women in the doctor’s office would somehow be in the best interests of Ohioans?  What’s more, this GOP bill eliminates a doctor’s ability to provide immediate and sometimes life-saving care when a women’s health is at risk.

“From forcing these medically unnecessary procedures, to defunding Planned Parenthood, to jeopardizing funding for rape crisis centers, the GOP is sending a clear message that they plan a continued assault aimed squarely at women’s health and privacy.

“If the Republican Party spent as much time focused on the economy as they do trying to publicly shame women while simultaneously compromising their health care, perhaps Ohio would not have fallen to 47th in the nation in job growth.”

 

Ohio Senator says Romney loss sunk 'heartbeat' bill
NECN.com

11.29.12 - COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Senate's leader said Thursday that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's defeat was a key factor in his decision to block a vote on stringent abortion restrictions.

GOP Senate President Tom Niehaus told reporters a Romney victory was a condition he had set with proponents for advancing the so-called "heartbeat bill." The legislation proposed banning most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Niehaus announced earlier this week that he would not schedule a vote on the bill. Backers planned a legislative maneuver to force a vote, but Niehaus assisted a procedural move Thursday that put a stop to that effort.

Niehaus said a Romney win over Democratic President Barack Obama would have increased the likelihood of a lineup of new U.S. Supreme Court appointees that would be favorable to a legal challenge to the heartbeat measure.

Backers had hoped the legislation's passage would spark a legal challenge that could lead to overturning the high court's landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion up until viability, which is closer to 22 weeks after conception.

Ohio anti-abortion activists were fiercely divided over the bill, with some fearing a court challenge could undo other abortion restrictions already in place.

"The risk became, do you send a bill to the U.S. Supreme Court that has the potential to undermine all of the good work that the right-to-life community has done over the previous decades?" Niehaus said. "Could it have undone Roe v. Wade? I don't know the answer to that question. That appeared to me to be an extreme risk to take, and I was not willing to take that risk."

The powerful Senate Rules committee met Thursday — minus two Republican pro-heartbeat members that Niehaus stripped of their committee appointments Wednesday night — and shut down an effort by the bill's backers to force a vote on the legislation. The panel voted unanimously to re-refer the bill to the Rules committee, a move that prevented it from being challenged for 30 days. That's more time than remains in the legislative session.

Niehaus, a New Richmond Republican departing at year's end due to term limits, said he made the move to protect his members from unfair attacks.

"It's clear that this bill saw some of the most intense lobbying efforts in recent memory — and that's fine: I'm all for people advocating for their position, and being passionate about their position," he said. "But threatening, in my opinion, goes over the line. And we saw tactics that I did not appreciate, and my members did not appreciate. And for a small faction of the pro-life community to target the most pro-life group of senators in recent memory was to me outrageous."

Members he removed from the committee ahead of Thursday's vote were fellow Republicans Keith Faber and Shannon Jones. Faber was elected Wednesday as the next Senate president. Both he and Jones had been strong supporters of the heartbeat measure, though Faber indicated publicly he would not defy Niehaus' wishes on the bill.

Ohio House Health Chairman Lynn Wachtmann, a key proponent of the bill, had worked over the summer to strike a compromise within Ohio's anti-abortion community.

Wachtmann said he succeeded in doing that and Niehaus went back on his word by rejecting the compromise. The agreement included a complete statewide abortion ban with narrow exceptions for rape and incest.

Asked Wednesday if Niehaus had suggested he would move the bill once the compromise was presented, Wachtmann said, "It was more than a suggestion."

Niehaus said he broke no such promise, because he told proponents moving the bill would hinge on a Romney victory. He also said significant changes had been suggested to the bill that wouldn't have adequate time to be aired.

 
Ohio Senate Puts End to 'Heartbeat' Abortion Bill
By ANN SANNER and JULIE CARR SMYTH Associated Press, Columbus, OH (AP)


11.27.12
 - The leader of the Ohio Senate put a stop Tuesday to a bill that would have imposed the most stringent restriction on abortions in the nation.

The chamber doesn't plan to vote on the so-called "heartbeat bill" before the end of the legislative session next month, Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus said, citing concerns the resulting law might have been found to be unconstitutional.

"I want to continue our focus on jobs and the economy," Niehaus told reporters. "That's what people are concerned about."

The bill proposed banning abortions after the first fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It had fiercely divided Ohio's anti-abortion community, while energizing abortion rights proponents who protested against it.

Backers hoped the stringent nature of the bill would provoke a legal challenge with the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Ohio Right to Life, the state's largest and oldest anti-abortion group, and many state lawmakers expressed concern the limit would be unconstitutional — jeopardizing other abortion limits in Ohio and expanding access to legal abortions.

The measure initially had stalled in both chambers as leaders sought legal advice as to whether the bill could withstand a court challenge. It passed the House in June 2011 and had remained pending in the Senate since.

Niehaus, who is leaving the Senate at the end of the year due to term limits, said a number of factors went into his decision not to bring the bill to a floor vote during the lame-duck session. He cited lingering constitutional concerns but would not elaborate on other issues he had with the measure.

Supporters had offered various versions of the proposal in recent weeks, Neihaus said. And a new draft had been brought to him as recently as Tuesday morning.

Niehaus wouldn't speculate on whether the bill would have cleared the Senate had he decided to bring it to the floor for a vote.

He said he respected the views of his Republican colleagues, who hold 23 of 33 seats in the Senate. But, he said, "Ultimately it's my decision not to move this bill in lame duck."

The heartbeat bill's demise Tuesday marked the end of one of the noisiest lobbying efforts in recent state memory.

One crowded House hearing featured what supporters called "the state's youngest legislative witness," an in utero fetus. Ultrasounds were performed at the hearing on two women who were early in their pregnancies, so legislators could see and hear the fetal hearts. People whose mothers had sought abortions that failed — labeled "abortion survivors" — were featured at another hearing.

Proponents delivered bouquets of red heart-shaped balloons and teddy bears to lawmakers, flew banners over the Statehouse and eventually turned to angry full-page ads in the Columbus newspaper.

Opponents also grew vocal. They rallied at the Statehouse during key votes, arguing the legislation could endanger the lives of women, forcing them to seek the procedure in unhealthy circumstances.

Janet Folger Porter, president of Ohio-based Faith2Action and the bill's champion, said she was confident the legislation would be upheld in court.

"This is the closest we have ever been to protecting babies with beating hearts," she said when it passed the House. "When this passes, it will be the most protective legislation in the nation."

Porter led a charge to line up a host of high-profile supporters. They included Cincinnati physician Jack Willke, a former president of the National Right to Life Committee and founder of the International Right to Life Federation, and Phil Burress, whose Citizens for Community Values led the charge to ban gay marriage, among others.

But Ohio Right to Life's then-executive director, Mike Gonidakis, called it "the right idea at the wrong time."

Battling negative publicity over its neutrality on the bill, his chapter was selected to launch a 50-state effort to pass informed-consent bills tied to the fetal heartbeat, requiring that pregnant women see and hear the rhythm before agreeing to an abortion.

Supporters of that effort said statistics show women exposed to the fetal heartbeat are far less likely to go through with an abortion.

State Sen. Shannon Jones, a Springboro Republican, said she thought the bill would have passed in the Senate.

"I am hopeful and confident it will come up in the next General Assembly," she said.

That's what the head of one abortion rights group feared Tuesday.

"We don't believe for a second that this threat is over — perhaps delayed, but not over," said NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio director Kellie Copeland.

 

As with defunding of Planned Parenthood, the Heartbeat Bill - HB 125 - 
was stopped in April 2012.
We can - and will - do it again!!

 11.18.12 - Ohioans are tired of the War on Women.  We're not going to allow the GOP to take us backward.

"The people demand that the Ohio Legislature immediately retire the Family Planning Defunding bills HB298 and SB201, as well as the "Heartbeat Bill," HB125.

If the Legislature is concerned with the health and well-being of women and children, and if the Legislature is genuinely interested in preventing unintended pregnancies, abortion, and unwanted children, then the following bills should be advanced right away: 

  • SB 190 / HB 281 The Ohio Prevention First Act 
  • SB 232 / HB 338 The Act for Our Children's Future  
  • SB 283 / HB 419 The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act"

To sign this petition, please click here:
http://signon.org/sign/ohio-legislature-stop?source=s.em.mt&r_by=5047889

 
11.15.12
 - Last week voters in Ohio clearly rejected an anti-choice agenda and made their support clear for letting women make their own private medical decisions.

Clearly some legislators didn’t get the message.

This week the ‘heartbeat bill’, a proposal too extreme even for Ohio Right to Life, is being considered again in our Statehouse. The bill is an unconstitutional affront on women’s reproductive health care. It violates the Constitution by removing a woman’s right to choose, starting as early as six weeks.

That some of our legislators would attempt this major attack just a week after the election shows that they haven’t gotten the message. Click here for full instructions on how you can call your legislator and drive the message home: our priority needs to be fixing the economy, not attacking the medical rights of women.

P.S. – If you’ve never called your legislator before, it’s easier than you think. Click here and find out how.

 

Heartbeat Bill - HB 125 - to get new look
By pkostyuB

11.08.12 - COLUMBUS — Cooperation between competing right to life groups revived controversial legislation to restrict abortions that now looks like it will be considered in the legislative lame duck session, which begins next week.

Ohio Right to Life, which approved of the concept of the bill, withheld support of it because the organization said the bill could not withstand a court challenge under Roe v. Wade. It believed that a failure at the U.S. Supreme Court could have the opposite effect, leading to more abortion restrictions. The landmark Court ruling sought to strike a balance between states’ rights to limit abortion and a woman’s right to privacy.

On the other hand, Faith2Action, a group formed by local chapters of Ohio Right to Life, including those in Cincinnati, Clermont and Warren counties, pushed for passage of the bill in the Ohio House in 2011. It said the time was right to pass a tougher abortion measure here, even though similar efforts in other states failed.

“I think we’re close,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.

He would not comment about details of a compromise or what issues are still keeping the groups apart.

“We’re going to keep the process close to the vest,” he said. “We don’t want this to play out in the press. We’re still working on it, trading messages about the language. It’s not final yet.”

Attempts to reach Janet Porter, leader of Faith2Action, were not successful. 

Porter’s group took aim at Niehaus and other legislators, including Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, trying to pressure them into moving the bill. They and other legislators were inundated with telephone calls, emails and post cards from supporters of the bill. TV ads, billboards and even an airplane circling the statehouse dragging a sign targeted legislators.

Niehaus, who is term-limited, and Jones, who was not up for election this year, withstood the pressure. Niehaus said he wanted cooperation from the two groups on compromise language for the bill.

He would not say today what that language is, but he said an agreement was reached and he will take a look at it next week. He is also consulting with state Rep. Lynn R. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, the sp0nsor of the legislation. Watchmann could not be reached for comment.

Niehaus said he set conditions for reconsidering the bill. He would not say what those conditions are or whether the bill’s proponents had met them. That’s what he’s going to consider next week, he said. 

Kellie Copeland, executive director of Naral Pro-Choice Ohio, said her organization expected movement on the bill in the lame duck session and heard rumors about a compromise for some time, but can’t figure out “what a compromise could be.”

“I saw in their post-election press release that they intend to continue their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood,” Copeland said. “It makes you wonder if they’ve seen the election results. Voters in Ohio and across the country clearly rejected this anti-choice agenda, the ability of women to make their own private medical decisions. That they would attempt these kind of major attacks less than a week after the election just shows that they don’t care what voters have to say. It’s their extremist agenda and voter sentiments be damned.”

 

4.12 — To defeat House Bill 125, which bans all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable,
click on the following link:  Take action on this issue

 _________________________________________


Don’t let the Heartbeat Bill fall off your radar—anti-choice activists are determined to see the bill heard in Senate committee as soon as possible. On Valentine’s Day, supporters of the bill delivered dozens of roses to Senators to urge them to pass the bill (photo here). Please be ready to spring into action, as we will need to make sure Senators hear the voices of all Ohioans, not just anti-choice activists!

_________________________________________

Thanks to the efforts of grassroots activists across Ohio, the Heartbeat Bill has been stopped -- for now. 

Although Republicans and far-right extremists had hoped to pass this bill before the end of the year -- making Ohio home to the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the country—Senate President Tom Niehaus put a hold on the bill and indicated that we will NOT see the Heartbeat Bill revisited in 2011

Each of you who spoke out against the Heartbeat Bill deserves a piece of the credit. Your calls, your emails, your letters to the editor, and your presence in those committee hearings showed Senate Republicans that we are watching. While Republicans quibbled with each other, and ultimately brought down this bill, we stood united against the war on women.

Here’s just a sample of what you did:

  • 2,415 of you clicked to take action on the emails we sent asking you to call and email Senate committee members;
  • You spread the word through constant social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter;
  • You jammed the phones at the State Legislature to send a message that the Heartbeat Bill is wrong for Ohio;
  • Dozens of letters to the editor were submitted to get the word out in your communities, and three of these were placed in media markets around the state;
  • You showed up to committee hearings in full force to let Senate Republicans know that we are paying attention.

We can celebrate that women's health care options remain safe a little longer. But we know our work is far from over.

Republicans in the legislature can and will raise this issue again. Their far-right supporters will demand it. You can be sure that Republicans will spend the holiday break creating a strategy to ram this through, one way or another. 

Dissention in the Republican ranks gave us an opportunity to stop the Heartbeat Bill in 2011… this should be a reminder to all of us of just how essential it is that we stay connected with one another, remain united in this fight, and keep the pressure on next year. So let’s take a deep breath, enjoy the holidays, and come back ready to work hard for even more successes in 2012!

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do. Your commitment has been extraordinary and I’m proud to be in this fight with you.

Onward to 2012!

Best,

Lauren Harmon
Women's Caucus Director
Ohio Democratic Party

P.S. Here’s one more reason we need to stay united – check out this article in the Cleveland Press on why Ohioans may see a Mississippi-style “Personhood Amendment” on the ballot in 2012. Keep in touch, and keep fighting!  Click on the links to other articles that represent opinions on this issue around the state at the top of this page.

We need to continue sending a message to Republicans on the committee this bill is wrong for Ohio!  The Ohio Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee Members include:

What will HB 125 do?

  • The bill criminalizes a woman’s right to choose – before most women even know they’re pregnant.
  • The bill makes NO exceptions for cases of rape, incest - limited exceptions when the health of the mother is at risk.
  • This bill puts Ohio women’s health at risk.
  • If this bill passes, Ohio will have the most extreme anti-choice legislation in the country.  Colorado and Mississippi voters have already overwhelmingly defeated similar language at the ballot box.
  • This bill is so extreme, even Ohio Right to Life won’t endorse it.
  • The bill is unconstitutional. It could drag Ohio into costly federal lawsuits at a time when our state is already facing budget deficits.

What will HB 125 NOT do?

  • Create jobs and rebuild our economy.

 
Articles on Heartbeat Bill:

 

"I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

HB 298/SB 201 - Defunding Planned Parenthood affects critical health care choices

The Fight for Planned Parenthood Continues
State Representative Sandra Williams (D-11)

11.14.12 - Legislators returned the Statehouse in full force this week.  On their agenda:  House Bill 298, prioritizing the distribution of funds for family planning services.  Last December, Representatives Kristina Roegner and Cliff Rosenberger introduced a bill would reprioritize the distribution of health grant funds in the following order:

  1. to public health entities offering family planning services
  2. to federally qualified health centers
  3. to nonpublic entities providing comprehensive primary and secondary and preventive care services in addition to family planning services
  4. to nonpublic entities that provide family planning services without offering comprehensive primary and preventive care services

Planned Parenthood falls in the last category and would receive grant money after the top three tiers are fully funded

In the last two days, Planned Parenthood has held two press conferences and one rally in opposition to the bill.   Advocates and activists gathered to urge politicians not to interfere with a woman's ability to make her own medical decisions.  Today’s press conference saw state legislators standing in solidarity against HB 298 including Representatives Nickie Antonio, Nancy Garland, Sandra Williams, Kenny Yoko, Alicia Reece, John Carney, Connie Pillich, Dan Ramos and Teresa Fedor, and Senator Nina Turner.

“This is just one of the many attacks on women’s health over the last couple of years.  Planned Parenthood provides much needed services to low income individuals who are often under- and uninsured,” said Rep. Williams. “This is about access to adequate health care and a woman’s right to govern her own body.  We cannot allow this to move forward.”

HB 298 is scheduled for additional hearings and is up for a vote in the House Health and Aging Committee.  Sponsors hope to pass the bill through the House and the Senate before the end of the 129th General Assembly.

 

11.14.12 - Ohioans are tired of the War on Women.  We're not going to allow the GOP to take us backward.

"The people demand that the Ohio Legislature immediately retire the Family Planning Defunding bills HB298 and SB201, as well as the "Heartbeat Bill," HB125.

If the Legislature is concerned with the health and well-being of women and children, and if the Legislature is genuinely interested in preventing unintended pregnancies, abortion, and unwanted children, then the following bills should be advanced right away: 

  • SB 190 / HB 281 The Ohio Prevention First Act 
  • SB 232 / HB 338 The Act for Our Children's Future  
  • SB 283 / HB 419 The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act"

To sign this petition, please click here:
http://signon.org/sign/ohio-legislature-stop?source=s.em.mt&r_by=5047889

 

After Personally Working With GOP Legislative Leaders in October to
Schedule Lame Duck Priorities, Kasich Cannot Claim Ignorance on
Session’s First Priority – Defunding Planned Parenthood
Jerid Kurtz - ODP

11.14.12 - COLUMBUS – For weeks, Republicans plotted and schemed about what extreme ideas they could get away with in the final days of legislative session, and in late October Governor John Kasich even met with legislative leaders to plot out the lame duck calendar.

Despite Election Day losses in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and all across the nation by GOP candidates that opposed women’s health care, today – during the very first day of lame duck session in the Ohio Statehouse – Ohioans will learn that at the very top of Kasich and the Republicans’ list of priorities is effectively defunding Planned Parenthood for the nearly 100,000 Ohioans that depend on it for critical health care services. 

In response to the many efforts Republicans have made during 2012 to defund Planned Parenthood, supporters of the Ohio Democratic Party have sent members of the Kasich Administration, and members of the State House Health and Aging Committee, more than 198,702 emails urging them to end their extremist attack on women’s preventive health care (a copy of one of these emails follows below). This latest Republican bill is rigged to ensure Planned Parenthood, and the women that depend on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, HIV tests, and birth control, might lose convenient access to these critical services. Governor Kasich cannot dodge commenting on this pending legislation he played a part in shaping, since he has repeatedly commented on pending legislation in the past, including the state budget and changes to the Ohio turnpike.

“Governor John Kasich cannot claim ignorance about this latest attack on women, since he sat down with state legislative leaders to personally calendar out priorities for the Statehouse’s final days of 2012,” said Jerid Kurtz, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party. “After appointing opponents of women’s health care to top positions in his administration, including seats on the State Medical Board and Supreme Court Vacancy committee, Kasich’s silence on this push to defund Planned Parenthood is no surprise, and sends a blunt message that job creation is not his top priority. The Governor is building a record that sends an incredibly clear message, women just can’t trust John Kasich with their health care.”

BACKGROUND

During 2012, Ohioans have sent nearly 200,000 emails to the Kasich Administration and members of the Health and Aging Committee urging them to end their extremist attacks on women’s health care and Planned Parenthood.

SUBJECT: These attacks must end

I want to encourage you to take a step back and think about what you’re doing. Nearly 100,000 Ohioans depend on the preventive care and women’s health centers your bill will defund.

The Republican Party’s near-continuous attacks on women’s rights and working families caused women to desert the GOP in waves on Election Day. From right here in Ohio, to Indiana, Missouri, and elsewhere, voters defeated major Republican candidates that stood to harm women’s health. The only way we can move forward and put Ohio back on track is if we respect the message the voters sent.

Governor Kasich and the Republican legislature’s latest attack on planned parenthood and women’s health and preventive care is both puzzling and extremely misguided. Not only are the citizens of Ohio standing against you, but the voters spoke last Tuesday that they are sick of these types of attacks.

The services planned parenthood provide are vital to the well-being of the neediest residents of our state — the very same people who are struggling the hardest just to put food on their tables. Cutting access to the already thin safety net available to them is not just wrongheaded, it’s cruel.

Stand with fair and reasonable people all across Ohio demanding an end to these attacks and have the courage to focus on what really matters: Creating and protecting good-paying jobs for hardworking Ohioans.

There’s nothing more important right now.

Sincerely,

[NAME]

 

11.13.12 - In late October as all eyes were on the presidential campaign, Governor Kasich met with Statehouse Republicans behind closed doors to plot his agenda for the rest of the year, and tomorrow he begins to implement it.

First on Kasich and the GOP's list of priorities? Defunding Planned Parenthood for the nearly 100,000 Ohioans that depend on it for critical health care services.

Please click here to write to Kasich and Statehouse Republicans demanding they back down from their latest attacks on women and preventive care.

It's as if Kasich and the Republicans didn't pay attention to Tuesday's election results: Republicans who opposed women's health care lost races in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and elsewhere and the country stood with President Obama who respects women. Instead of focusing on getting Ohio back on track, Republicans are back to their normal playbook full of extremist attacks on women's health care. We must stop them.

Since Kasich and the Ohio GOP didn't pay attention to Tuesday's election results, we need to send them a message now. Click here to stand with Planned Parenthood and demand Kasich and the Republicans end their attack on women's preventive health care!

Ohio Republicans don't want family planning dollars to actually help women unless it fits their radical, ideological definition of "help." They started their attacks on preventive health care nationally by pushing to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress and followed with statewide efforts in Indiana, Texas, and elsewhere across the nation. Now, they're here in Ohio, peddling the same thing and setting up what they're calling a “new priority system.”

Unsurprisingly, this "new priority system" is rigged to ensure Planned Parenthood, and the women that depend on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, HIV tests, and birth control, are shut out from any state support.

Without your signature and support, the Republicans just won’t stop. Click here to send the Governor and his Republicans friends a clear message: lay off Planned Parenthood and stop attacking women's health care.

Yours in the fight,

Lauren Harmon
Women's Caucus Director
Ohio Democratic Party
 
 

11.07.12 - The GOP believes in waiting periods for some things, but not others --
on Wednesday, November 7th, the legislature will be bringing back two of its worst attacks
for the lame duck session:

  • On Wednesday morning at 9:30am, the House Health committee will be hearing Planned Parenthood defunding.
  • In the afternoon on same day, time TBD, the Senate Health committee will be hearing the Heartbeat Bill.

Republicans were stopped on their second try to defund Planned Parenthood
back on May 25, 2012 - THANKS TO YOU! 

We can - and will - do it again!

 

5.25.12 - Republicans were stopped again on their second try to defund Planned Parenthood.  THANKS TO YOU!  Almost 14,000 petitions were signed and more than 131,000 letters were sent to members of the Ohio House Health, Human Services and Aging Committee.  Your response was overwhelming and your voice was heard in Columbus!

You stopped the Republicans attack on Ohio's women and their families once again.  However, as we all know, Ohio is the epicenter for continued attacks on women's health care and choices and women's rights and safety as November 2012 quickly approaches.  They won't stop.  Their sneak attacks will continue.

Make sure you are informed on all the issues as Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th quickly approaches!  Once again - THANK YOU!

_____________________________

Pink carnations sent to Ohio Legislators to stand with
Ohio women and families to stop HB 298

RedAlert:  Send a message NOW!
Over 120,000 messages sent so far!

5.16.12 - Today, Ohio Statehouse Republicans scheduled a third hearing on House Bill 298, their bill to reprioritize and ultimately defund, Planned Parenthood's preventive health care programs.  However, the bill was NOT voted out of committee!  Over 120,000 women and men have sent a message to the Republican House members that their attacks on women and their families must stop NOW.  Will you add your voice to the fight?  Click here to email the legislators and let them know that you stand with Planned Parenthood and the women who rely on them for their critical health care services!  Click here to read what Planned Parenthood has meant to countless women:  Ohio Women for Planned Parenthood.

This morning's hearing in the Ohio House of Representatives Health and Aging Committee is the first scheduled legislative action on efforts to defund Planned Parenthood since Republicans withdrew an amendment they placed in the "Mid-Bienium Budget Review" approximately three weeks ago that had a similar goal. In response to the renewed effort to end funding for Ohio Planned Parenthood and their ability to provide preventive health care like life-saving cancer screenings, breast exams, pap tests, counseling, family planning, and sexual education, the Ohio Democratic Women's Caucus Director Lauren Harmon sent the following letter to Legislators:

Dear Representative,

I am writing today on behalf of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus to express our deep concern about House Bill 298, and its companion, Senate Bill 201.

Women are incredibly alarmed that Ohio Statehouse Republicans have brought this defunding bill up for another committee hearing, and appear intent on following Mitt Romney and Josh Mandel in their efforts to attack women’s preventive health care and ultimately “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. Please wear the attached pink carnation to demonstrate your support for preventive health care, and your opposition to HB 298.

Make no mistake, HB 298 would effectively defund Planned Parenthood, harming the nearly 100,000 Ohio women and families that rely on the essential preventive health care services Planned Parenthood provides. In some cases, there are no clinics or hospitals nearby to provide the same level of preventive care Planned Parenthood provides throughout some parts of Ohio.

For these patients, Planned Parenthood is their only option for receiving preventive health care. Planned Parenthood clinics have offered their patients high-quality services at a lower cost than other health care providers for almost 80 years in Ohio.

More than  96% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are preventive care—life-saving cancer screenings, breast exams, pap tests, counseling, family planning, and sexual education. In these tough economic times, we ask that our legislators stand with the Ohio families who rely on Planned Parenthood to keep these essential health care services affordable.

Yesterday, within hours after being called to action, our supporters sent Representatives on the Health and Aging Committee over 65,000 emails urging Committee Members to respect the view of the majority of Americans, and end this latest attack on Planned Parenthood. Ohioans want our legislators to focus on improving the economy and creating jobs for Ohioans, not attacking our right to access health care services. We hope you will listen to these women urging you to protect their preventive health care.

Please accept this carnation and stand with Ohio women and families to stop HB 298.

Sincerely,

Lauren Harmon
Director, Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus

Will you add your voice to the fight as have over 120,000 others?  Click here to email the legislators and let them know that you stand with Planned Parenthood and the women who rely on them for their critical health care services!

_____________________________

RedAlert: 
Republicans moving to defund Planned Parenthood...AGAIN!

5.15.12 - Just two weeks ago, your involvement made the difference, and these radical Republicans curbed their legislative attack on women's health organizations like Planned Parenthood.  But – no surprise – now they’re trying to pull a classic bait-and-switch.

Right now, Statehouse Republicans are fast-tracking a bill that could defund Planned Parenthood and the important work they do on cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control.  And even worse, it could be voted on in the House as early as tomorrow - Wednesday, May 16th.

We rallied once before and stopped them.  This time, we need to send these extremists thousands of messages they won't soon forget.  Click here to send a message to Republican House members that we won't tolerate these attacks on working women and their families: http://action.ohiodems.org/redalert

If we stand together, we can beat back the radical right wing's attempts to defund critical women's health services.  But to do that, it's critical that you and your friends and family get involved today.

_____________________________

5.11.12 - On Wednesday, May 16, in the morning, Republicans plan to hear HB 298 -- a stand-alone bill to defund Planned Parenthood as its sole objective.  Over 100,000 Ohio women and families who rely on Planned Parenthood for their critical preventive care -- such as breast exams, birth control and life-saving cancer screenings -- are at risk.  

We need you to help us stop them.

  1. Click here to sign the ODP petition calling on the Republicans to end their attacks on Planned Parenthood and women’s health care options. Over 14,000 Ohioans have already signed. Please add your voices to theirs so that we can deliver your message to the anti-woman forces in the Legislature, and don’t forget to forward the link to your friends!
  2. Call House Speaker Bill Batchelder to tell him to stop this bill. Click here for the Speaker’s contact information. 
  3. If you can, join Planned Parenthood supporters at the legislature to attend the hearing and show Republicans that women will not stand for these continued attacks on our health care. Meet on Wednesday, May 16, at 8:30 am in State House room 116—and don’t forget to wear pink!

_____________________________

4.26.12 - Thanks to your efforts last week during the Republican’s latest attacks on women as they tried to defund Planned Parenthood and other preventive health care services, they pressed pause on their latest assault. Unfortunately for Ohioans, we expect that more of their attacks on women are right around the corner.  Although the Planned Parenthod defunding language has been pulled from the budget bill, there is a stand-alone bill (HB 298) that will do the exact same thing. This bill has already had proponent testimony in committee and is ripe to be fast-tracked.

After discovering that buried within Kasich’s budget do-over bill was a sneaky way to ensure that Planned Parenthood lost all of its funding, there was no time to waste as we took action to fight for women across the state. Within a matter of hours, we had over 10,000 signatures on our petition to stand with Ohio women—and that number continues to grow.  Together, we made our voices heard—and Ohio Republicans had to listen.

But make no mistake, their attacks on women have been ongoing, and we haven’t seen the last of them.  Even while they yanked the plan from the budget bill yesterday, the Republican leadership was already reminding us that they have a separate Planned Parenthood defunding bill that will start to gain more traction in the Ohio House.

As the Columbus Dispatch reported today:

“In fact, GOP leaders said a separate Planned Parenthood defunding bill introduced last year is likely to start getting more attention.”  This is the stand-alone bill - HB 298 referenced above.

Ohio Right to Life, the group who behind closed doors has major influence over Republicans in the Statehouse, said yesterday:

“This issue is not over, and it’s not the last you’re going to hear from Ohio Right to Life.”

Republicans slowed down this recent attack because they knew you were paying attention, and that together we would continue our fight to protect these preventive health services for women.

But they’re determined to attack women’s preventive care and Planned Parenthood again, possibly very soon. We’ve shown that there truly is strength in numbers, so if you haven’t already, add your name to the list of Ohioans who are in it for the long-haul.

_____________________________________________________________________

4.18.12 - Governor Kasich and his idelogical pawns in the Statehouse are kicking back and celebrating right now because they just declared Ohio the epicenter of the national Republican attacks on women.

Will you stand up and support Ohio Planned Parenthood and show Republicans we won't accept their attacks on women?

Late yesterday, they snuck a provision into a sprawling budget bill that is meant to block state funding for Planned Parenthood in Ohio, effectively ending access to preventive health care for many women.

Ohio Republicans don't want family planning dollars to actually help women unless it fits their radical, ideological definition of "help." They started their attacks on preventive health care nationally by pushing to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress and followed with statewide efforts in Indiana, Texas, and elsewhere across the nation. Now, they're here in Ohio, peddling the same thing and setting up what they're calling a “new priority system.”

Unsurprisingly, this "new priority system" is rigged to ensure Planned Parenthood, and the women that depend on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, HIV tests, and birth control, are shut out from any state support.

While you're reading this email, Republican lawmakers are literally over at the statehouse fast-tracking this legislation. We need to act quickly to try to stop this thing: 

Click here to stand with Planned Parenthood and demand Republicans end their attack on women's preventive health care!

Without your signature and support, the Republicans just won’t stop. They're determined to ensure that the nearly 100,000 Ohioans that depend on Planned Parenthood for a wide range of critical services. Many low-income and working families don't have access to anything else. 

This bill is bad for everyone but it's absolutely devastating for Ohio's women and families.

Sign our petition and help Planned Parenthood provide critical services to families in need.

As soon as we gather enough signatures, we will deliver the petition to Governor Kasich and statehouse Republicans responsible for this attack.

With your help, we'll shine a bright light on their extremism and build a powerful movement that stops these attacks on women in Ohio, and nationally, once and for all.

In solidarity,

Lauren Harmon
Women's Caucus Director
Ohio Democratic Party

Please check out the links to various articles concerning this issue:

__________________________________________________________________

4.17.12
Plunderbund provided the following article: 

The vast majority—76 percent—of Planned Parenthood clients are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. The care they are seeking ranges from testing for sexually-transmitted diseases, prenatal care, contraception, cancer screening and prevention and pregnancy testing. Abortion makes up only 3 percent of PP’s services. Contraception represents 34%. That means 63% of Planned Parenthood services have nothing to do with family planning.
In addition to restricting the flow of federal “family planning” funds, House Bill 487, sponsored by Representative Ron Amstutz and adopted without a recorded vote by members of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, completely prohibits the distribution to Planned Parenthood of Ohio or any of its affiliates from any of the following federal programs:
  • Violence Against Women Act
  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act
  • Infertility Prevention Project (US Dept of Health & Human Services)
  • Minority HIV/AIDS initiative funds (Centers for Disease Control)

According to GOP House members, Planned Parenthood is such an undesirable organization that not only do we want to prevent it from doing any family planning work (remember, the law already prohibits public funds from paying for abortions), we also don’t want them to help people with HIV/AIDS or  infertility, to screen women for cervical or breast cancer, or to help victims of domestic violence.

CALL TO ACTION: 
Call Representative Amstutz telling him to remove the language targeting Planned Parenthood from HB487.
His office number is (614) 466-1474.
Planned Parenthood has an action form you can use to e-mail Amstutz.


____________________________________________________

CALL TO ACTION: Say NO to Defunding Planned Parenthood!

2.28.12 - An Ohio House committee heard testimony on HB 298 - sponsored by House Representatives Kristina Roegner and Cliff Rosenberger - a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. An identical bill, SB 201 sponsored by Senator Kris Jordan, is before the Senate.

Ohio Senator Kris Jordan (R-19th District)

First, read coverage of the bills here:

  • Abortion foes want women’s health funds rerouted from Planned Parenthood (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Senator Kris Jordan lies about purpose of anti-Planned Parenthood bill (Plunderbund)

Then, click here to find your legislators. Call your Ohio Representative and Senator to urge them to vote NO on HB 298 and SB 201!  To contact Senator Jordan:  Phone: (614) 466-8086  Email: SD19@senate.state.oh.us

Check out these news clips concerning the war on women's health care choices:

  • Connie Schultz: A woman’s womb – America’s new sports arena (Appeal-Democrat)
  • The War on Women: Ohio Edition (Plunderbund)
  • Ending the downward spiral on women’s rights (Salon.com)

Check out the new campaign from the National Women’s Law Center:  “My Health is NOT Up for Debate!

Personhood Amendment - Not on November 2012 Ballot, but could be back on table soon

http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2012/feb/15/patrick-johnston/leader-personhood-issue-claims-abortion-most-commo/
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election-2012/personhood-bills-pushed-u-s-abortion-social-issues-fore-gop-presidential-contest-article-1.1023878?localLinksEnabled=false
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/08/mississippi-personhood-amendment_n_1082546.html


7.04.12
- An anti-choice group failed to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would have declared that life begins when a human egg is fertilized.  Approximately only 30,000 signatures were collected.

_______________________________________

6.29.12 - An Ohio anti-choice group is facing a significant shortfall in the number of signatures needed to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 General Election ballot that would ask voters to declare that life begins when a human egg is fertilized.  This amendment is also known as the 'personhood' initiative.

The group's director said only about five percent of the roughly 385,000 signatures have been collected so far.  To place the initiative on the November 2012 ballot, roughly 385,000 signatures are required to be submitted by July 4th to the Secretary of State's Office.  Other similar ballot initiatives have fallen short on signatures in Nevada and California.

_______________________________________

Proponents of Personhood Ohio are continuing to try to trick voters about what their constitutional amendment would really do. In the campaign’s very first “PolitiFact” fact check, Personhood Ohio director Patrick Johnston got a “Pants-on-Fire” rating for his comments that abortion is “the most common surgery in the country” (article here). 

This ballot initiative has come up for vote in Colorado and Mississippi most recently.  Several other states are considering such amendments.  The language declares life begins at fertilization, a proposal that supporters sought in Bible Belt states as a way to prompt another legal challenge to abortion rights nationwide.  This is a dangerous bill that could alter a woman's right to choice.

Click on the above links to articles to help you stay informed as this issue comes to a head in the Ohio legislature and possibly to the voters of Ohio.