Abortion rights supporters and opponents reacted strongly today to the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
The ruling allows states to further restrict or outlaw abortion, and Ohio has laws in place or proposed that would do that.
“Praise God that the human rights of unborn children can now be protected.” said Margie Christie, executive director, Dayton Right To Life.
“On this historic day Dayton Right to Life is looking forward to the citizens of Ohio having a voice on this issue. We also stand ready to support women and their children as they all live out their best futures.”
Abortion rights activist Joy Schwab of Dayton called the ruling “outrageous” and announced that a protest will be held tonight, June 24, at 6 p.m. outside the Federal Building, 200 W. Second St., in downtown Dayton.
“It’s been part of our legal system for 50 years and the fact that this has been orchestrated over the years to put justices on the court who would overturn a legal right, taking away something from half the population, is just outrageous,” said Schwab, founder of the Dayton Women’s Rights Alliance.
“Everyone who cares about women’s rights and human rights has got to immediately mobilize and pledge and work to get people in Congress who will codify this into the law in the land.”
The high court’s 6-3 decision handed down Friday morning was expected after a leaked draft of the ruling in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, became public earlier this year. All six conservative justices voted to overturn Roe v Wade as they considered the Mississippi law enacted in 2018 that banned abortion after 15 weeks. The court’s three liberals dissented.
Abortion opponents pleased with ruling
Abortion opponents in state legislatures have spent years whittling away at the Roe v. Wade ruling that protected abortion rights during the first trimester.
“When Roe v. Wade was decided, there were no ultrasounds. As science has progressed, we have all seen the humanity of unborn babies as they kick, squirm and suck their thumb in the womb,” said Lori Viars, vice president of Warren County Right To Life, who worked for nine years to pass Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill.”
A federal court injunction prevented enforcement of that 2019 bill outlawing abortions after five or six weeks, before women typically know they are pregnant. On Friday Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office filed an emergency motion to dissolve the injunction and it was granted.
“The Heartbeat Law hopefully and prayerfully will go into effect in the state of Ohio. We are acting to pass the Human Life Protection Act that will end abortion from the moment of conception,” said Elizabeth Whitmarsh, director of communications for Ohio Right To Life. “By the end of the year it is very likely that Ohio will not have legal abortion.”
She said the group does not support prohibiting Ohio women from traveling across state lines. But Whitmarsh said the group wants to stop mail delivery of mifepristone and misoprostol, the two legal medications used to induce abortions in the early part of a pregnancy.
Abortion opponent Diane Horvath said Roe v. Wade was unconstitutional from the start.
“We all have something to celebrate as we uphold the precepts of our constitution. In a democratic society, this is paramount,” said Horvath, a Warren County Right To Life board member. “We urge our state representatives and senators to protect the most vulnerable among us — unborn children.”
Christie, speaking at an afternoon news conference, said she looks forward to enacting stronger laws to “protect the pre-born.” And she said the group will “continue to work and build family-friendly policies in our workforces on our college campuses, all places where we can support women working, living and thriving.”
Abortion rights supporters call for mobilizing
Majorities of Americans have long supported abortion rights. Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 37% think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a March poll by the non-partisan Pew Research Center.
“We can’t go back 50 years when women were dying of illegal abortion or being forced to have children that they can’t take care of,” Schwab said. “We need to set up networks like we had before Roe to help women go out of the state so they can get abortions before they do harm to themselves.”
The court ruling allows a minority to take away personal freedoms, said Desiree Tims, a Dayton native and former congressional candidate who is president and CEO of Innovation Ohio.
“Most Americans and Ohioans support the basic human right to decide what happens to our own bodies. It’s time for the majority to speak with one voice that cannot be ignored,” Tims said.
She said the court decision highlights the power local and state elected officials have to make decisions about women’s bodies.
“We must vote in every single election, especially for state Supreme Court candidates,” Tims said. “Ohio’s Supreme Court will likely now decide the future of abortion rights in our communities.
Abortion remains legal in Ohio, but the ruling could lead to criminalization of women, doctors and those who help women get abortions, said Iris Harvey, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. Speaking at a virtual news conference Friday afternoon she said law makers may use the ruling to limit access to contraception including birth control pills, IUDs and the morning after pill, as well as health care for miscarriages.
“We will continue to fight for abortion because abortion is health care and health care is a human right,” said Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region. “This changes nothing for us at this moment. We will continue to open our doors, continue to see our patients, continue to connect patients to resources and continue to take care of those who need us. No matter what.”
The ACLU, ACLU of Ohio and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America plan a state court lawsuit on behalf of abortion providers to protect the right to abortion care under the Ohio Constitution, according to a statement released by ACLU of Ohio Friday.
“Given the horrible consequences that will be unleashed by the Supreme Court’s decision, the path to regaining our rights will be hard-fought, but the ACLU will be there every step of the way,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. “We won’t stop until all Ohioans are again secure in the power to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families.”
Staff writer Eileen McClory contributed to this report.
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