Over the past several years, Ohio has enacted some of the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the nation. And the anti-choice community is showing no signs of stopping.
The president of Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, told the Columbus Dispatch on Monday that his group is preparing several new anti-abortion measures for the next legislative session. He’s anticipating a “rather large and robust” legislative agenda for 2015 that will include as many as six anti-choice bills.
“You have to take it a step at a time, you have to change culture,” Gonidakis explained.
That upcoming legislation is on top of several new laws that are already seriously compromising Ohio women’s access to reproductive health care. Thanks to harsh abortion clinic restrictions that were approved last summer, the clinics in the state are struggling to remain open. Several have already closed, and some of Ohio’s largest metropolitan areas are in danger of losing all of their reproductive health facilities altogether. In previous interviews, Gonidakis has claimed that closing all of Ohio’s abortion clinics is well within the bounds of Roe v. Wade.
There are some other stringent measures that are waiting for lawmakers’ consideration when they reconvene in the fall, too. Earlier this month, the legislature began to advance a measure that prohibits women from using their insurance coverage to help pay for abortion services — an increasingly popular anti-choice tactic intended to drive up the cost of abortion. Ohio’s proposed bill actually goes even further; it could actually prevent low-income women who rely on Medicaid from using their coverage for IUDs, the most effective form of long-acting birth control.
As states continue to enact a record-breaking number of restrictions on reproductive health, local anti-choice groups are now looking to outdo each other. There’s somewhat of a competition over which state can do the most to “protect life,” and abortion opponents are eager to claim their first “abortion free state” where the procedure is totally inaccessible. Ohio is at the front of the pack.
“I think Ohio is one of the stronger states for legislation, but I can tell you that Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin can make that same claim,” Carol Tobias, the president of National Right to Life, told the Columbus Dispatch.
That’s something that pro-choice groups in the state actually agree with, although they wouldn’t characterize it as a positive thing.
As much of the national media coverage of reproductive rights issues has been focused on Texas, where a harsh new law is closing dozens of clinics, reproductive rights advocates in Ohio have consistently warned that a similar dynamic is unfolding in their state. An increasing number of Ohio residents are crossing the border into Michigan to obtain abortion care. Kellie Copeland, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, believes that the state is quickly becoming one of the “most dangerous” for women. In previous interviews, Gonidakis has noted that closing all of Ohio’s abortion clinics is well within the bounds of Roe v. Wade.