Pro-choice activists and community members joined outside of City Hall the evening of Oct. 5 to call on city and state officials to keep the two last abortion providers in southwestern Ohio open.
The Mount Auburn Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Med Center in Dayton have been in jeopardy of closing since last month after state health officials denied their applications to renew their licenses to perform abortions. The clinics have been unable to secure the legally required patient-transfer agreement with a private hospital and requested exceptions to that rule because they have individual doctors on staff with admitting privileges.
Last week, a federal judge ruled the clinics could stay open until appeals to the health department’s decision are heard. The clinics could close within a week if their appeals are denied. If the two clinics close, the state will have just seven abortion providers, down from 14 in 2013. Cincinnati would become the largest metropolitan area in the country without an abortion provider.
The rally, which was organized by the feminist group The Radical Feminist Collective of Cincinnati, attracted about 40 people. Activists heavily targeted Gov. John Kasich, who is pro-life. Kasich has signed into law 16 new restrictions that abortion providers must adhere to during his time as governor.
“If these clinics close, where will those women go?” said Megan Hague of the Radical Feminist Collective. “What will they do? How far must they travel?”
City Councilman Chris Seelbach was the sole city official to attend the rally.
“Unlike some of the modern-day civil rights movements, we already fought this fight over 40 years ago, and we won,” Seelbach said. “So the fact that we’re still battling it today is very discouraging, but we know we will win because we will continue to fight.”
Seelbach also highlighted other measures the city has taken to promote gender equality, such as the recently passed initiative allowing all city government employees to take up to six weeks of paid parental leave and a city-wide study on gender-pay equality. He encouraged attendees to vote for progressive candidates.
Supporters then marched to Great American Ball Park, where Mayor John Cranley was giving the State of City address.