Rally to Kick Off Local Fight over Roe Ruling

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Steel Valley Reproductive Justice Coalition will hold a rally at 5 p.m. Friday, at the corner of Federal Street and Market Street, to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

As expected, following the leak of a draft opinion several weeks ago, the nation’s highest court eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion enshrined in the 1973 ruling in its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which upheld a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“SCOTUS may have just ended Roe, but we are not going back,” the coalition said in a news release announcing the rally. “Abortion has always existed and will continue to exist. The movement to secure reproductive justice does not end because of today’s Supreme Court decision.”

The decision drew swift reaction from elected officials Friday morning, with those from U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, both of whom are vying to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, exemplifying the responses from their respective political parties.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, characterized the “disastrous decision” as “the largest case of government overreach” in his lifetime. The ruling guts “a long-established right” and “gives the green light to those here in Ohio who have introduced legislation that would deny women access to potentially lifesaving care, and threaten to put women and doctors in jail,” he said.

“We saw this coming, which is why as a member of Congress I’ve voted repeatedly to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, only to watch it die in the Senate along with so many other bills that would protect health care and help women and families,” he continued. “It’s clear the Senate is not working the way it’s supposed to and Ohio women will pay the price. It has never been more important that we expand our pro-choice majority, end the filibuster, and pass legislation to protect the fundamental right to an abortion.”

Vance, who won the Republican nomination for the Senate seat, said the ruling vindicates a half-century of work by abortion opponents.

“I am 37 years old and for my entire life abortion on demand – decreed by an unelected panel of judges – has been forced on the nation. Today is a great day,” he said in a news release.

The anti-abortion movement now enters a new phase, Vance continued.

“We will continue the fight to ensure that every young mother has the resources they need to bring new life into the world. We will build an economy where it’s possible to sustain and support our children,” he said. “We will expand adoption and promote pregnancy centers, so that every child has the loving home they deserve.”

Portman, a Cincinnati Republican, said Friday’s ruling was consistent with his view that policy questions regarding abortion should be decided by the people’s elected representatives, not the Supreme Court.

“The states already play a significant role in abortion policy, but have been constrained by various Supreme Court rulings. Now the issue of abortion will be decided by the states and the elected representatives closest to the people,” he said.

“While abortion is a very sensitive and emotional issue with strong feelings on both sides, I think most Americans agree that human life is precious and should be protected wherever possible,” Portman said. “To that end, we should do more to work together in a bipartisan manner to promote adoption, reduce the number of abortions, and provide support for pregnant women in difficult circumstances.” 

Democrat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown decried the “radical decision by an increasingly out-of-touch court” that Americans won’t stand for, he predicted. He called on President Biden and Congress to take action to restore protections for women to make their own health decisions.

“For 50 years, women in America had the right to make their own personal health care decisions. Today, five judges handed that right over to politicians,” Brown said. “This will be the first generation of women to grow up with fewer rights and freedoms than their mothers and grandmothers, and this burden will be disproportionately carried by low-income women and women of color.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Marietta, hailed the “landmark and historic” court decision, and called on Ohio to enact a law similar to the Mississippi law the court upheld.

“Liberal states, like California and New York, will likely vote to become hubs for abortion.  And while I would vehemently disagree with their decision, it would be up to the voters in those states. And that’s the point: today’s Supreme Court decision, authored by Justice [Samuel] Alito, rightfully allows states to make their own decisions; it does not ban abortion. But today marks an important return to the federalism on which our Constitution is based,” Johnson said

Former state Sen. Bob Hagan said he was “outraged” by the court’s decision to take rights away from women. The Youngstown Democrat who is challenging incumbent state Sen. Mike Rulli, R-33 Salem, said if elected he would support the Reproductive Freedom Act, and charged that Rulli was against equal rights for women.

“What is next? Voting rights, labor rights? Think about that,” Hagan said.

Rulli did not respond to an emailed request for comment by time of publication.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.