Feminist Fix: Hundreds of Ohio Women Rally at the Statehouse for Reproductive Choice

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On Tuesday, hundreds of pro-choice activists from across the state of Ohio traveled to the Statehouse in Columbus to protest anti-choice legislation that threatens their state clinics and sets precedents for further restrictions on birth control, abortion, and reproductive rights for Ohio women. The measures, put into place through an 11-th hour signing of Ohio’s budget by Governor John Kasich, angered women’s rights activists. Previously, Kasich had vowed not to impose more restrictions on abortion.

 + The Feminist Majority Foundation posted the official press release right after the rally came to a close, including stellar quotes from each speaker – including FM President Eleanor Smeal, NOW President Terry O’Neill, and local feminist leaders and politicians.

“Gov. (John) Kasich ran and won by promising jobs but Ohio is third from the bottom in creating jobs,’’ said Eleanor Smeal, who heads the Feminist Majority. “Once he got elected, he didn’t talk about jobs. He talked about controlling a woman’s uterus.’’

Other speakers echoed her comments and promised to continue fighting for the rights of women to have access to quality care and for doctors – not politicians – to decide what is best for patients.

“Women are not fooled by the hide-and-sneak tactics of John Kasich and his pals who want to push us back to the 1950s,’’ said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “Make no mistake, the politicians who keep waging this outrageous war on women will pay a price at the polls next year.”

Smeal and O’Neill were among 10 speakers who addressed the 90-minute rally and urged attendees to make their opposition to the anti-woman legislation known, stand up for the rights of doctors and patients and consider changing Ohio’s political climate by running for office.

+ Two Feminist Campus organizers wrote a trip diary about their experience working with students at OU and OSU in the days before the rally to increase turnout.

+ Video footage of each speaker is available on Mark Kovac’s Ohio Capital Blog.

+ WFMJ, a local Ohio affiliate of NBC, sent a reporter to the rally on one of the buses bringing activists from various counties in Ohio to the state capital.

+ Over 50 groups from across the state sent representatives and individuals to the rally Tuesday.

+ ThinkProgress provided readers with a gallery of protest images, and discussed some of the social media actions that happened live at the rally. Many folks in attendance and in greater Ohio posted photos of their shoes with the tag #wontgoback on Tuesday to send a message to Gov. Kasich that he does not walk in their shoes and should not be legislating their access to reproductive care. Other users utilized the hashtag to live-tweet or send messages of support.

+ The Columbus Dispatch broke down the budget changes and their predicted effects as part of their rally coverage.

The budget provisions that took effect on Sept. 30 include:

• Essentially cutting off Planned Parenthood from federal funding.

• Banning abortion clinics, which are required to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital, from signing one with a public hospital.

• Requiring women to have an external ultrasound before an abortion and requiring the doctor to inform the woman of a heartbeat.

• Establishing funding for crisis-pregnancy centers, which don’t perform abortions.

• Providing $1 million per year to rape-crisis programs but prohibiting counselors from discussing abortion.

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