Cincinnati Leaders Plan for Abortion Fight After Roe v. Wade SCOTUS Leak

“If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, safe abortions will end. Women and girls will die."

May 4, 2022 at 3:13 pm
Cincinnati Leaders Plan for Abortion Fight After Roe v. Wade SCOTUS Leak
Photo: Gayatri Malhotra, Unsplash

On May 2, the eve of Ohio’s primary election, Politico reported on a leaked draft opinion from an unidentified U.S. Supreme Court clerk that suggested a majority of the court will vote to overturn the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.

While the court won’t issue a ruling until June, some local leaders and candidates are calling on voters and Congress to preserve abortion access now. In recent months, a number of states have passed or proposed a variety of abortion restrictions that effectively criminalize the procedure as well as related resources like transportation or medical counseling, making the push to preserve abortion more urgent.

“All women must have the fundamental right to choose, and we must fight to protect that right at all costs,” Cincinnati mayor Aftab Pureval tweeted on May 2. “Codify Roe v. Wade into federal law now. Women’s rights are human rights.”

Cincinnati City Council member Greg Landsman echoed Pureval’s call for Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

“The other side is hoping our outrage will turn into despair and hopelessness,” Landsman said in a statement. “We must codify the freedoms in Roe into federal law. And we must keep and expand our Congressional majorities so that all families in our communities have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders urged Congress to end the filibuster, saying it’s the only way to pass the legislation with 50 votes.

“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW,” Sanders tweeted. “And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.”

But the pursuit to end the filibuster has failed before, and “trigger” laws in many states (including Kentucky, with legislators considering a similar law in Ohio) would cut off abortion access immediately if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in June.

John Cranley, the former Cincinnati mayor who lost the May 3 primary for the Democratic nomination in Ohio's race for governor, said the gubernatorial race is what could ultimately determine Ohio’s access to abortion.

“The draft opinion would let states decide whether or not to allow abortion, and Ohio Republicans have made it clear they want a total abortion ban,” Cranley said in a statement on May 3 before election results were available. “The stakes in this election could not be higher. Electing the strongest Democrat as our nominee for governor is essential to protecting reproductive freedom in Ohio.”

Cranley’s running mate, Senator Teresa Fedor, told CityBeat the potential Supreme Court decision would be fatal.

“If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, safe abortions will end. Women and girls will die,” Fedor said before the primary. “Ohio needs a veto stamp for sure, and the only way to get one is to elect John Cranley governor.”

Cranley’s primary challenger, former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, urged voters to turn out after the Politico leak.

“It has never been more important to elect a genuinely pro-choice candidate to be Ohio’s next governor. If you care about reproductive rights, we need your vote tomorrow - full stop,” Whaley tweeted.

Whaley had been endorsed by organizations like Pro-Choice Ohio and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.

“If legal access to abortion is lost in Ohio, we know that the people most impacted will be Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, disabled folks, trans people, minors, and low-income Ohioans … Now is the time for champions, not just allies. That is why I am asking Democrats to vote for Nan Whaley for governor,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement before Tuesday's election.

Fedor said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who is seeking reelection for his seat and who won the Republican nomination in the May 3 primary, has shown that he will champion any attempt at limiting abortion in the state that already has a conservative supermajority.

“There isn’t an abortion bill Mike DeWine won’t sign,” Fedor said. “It’s incredibly important to have fair districts. Republican’s have had 30 years of control and gerrymandered districts with extreme anti-abortion bills. They don’t want to have fair districts. They have no intention of following their sworn oath to the constitution.”

The supermajority in the Ohio House would give lawmakers the ability to override a veto on the abortion ban from any newly elected governor, but Cranley was optimistic Tuesday that the state voting maps will give way to the veto power needed to preserve abortion access.

“The maps are changing, and even if they do the last version, that should get to a less-than-veto-proof majority for Democrats,” Cranley told CityBeat. “It’s really raising the stakes to win, we gotta win. I think we’ll be able to sustain a veto.”

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