With the upholding of the Affordable Care Act (and all of its benefits for women!) still fresh in our minds, it’s easy to forget that there’s a larger political battle still going on. A woman’s right to make decisions about herself and her body is still under attack in Ohio. Supporters of the so-called Heartbeat Bill are still pushing for it, personhood is fighting for a spot on Ohio’s ballot (though it may not succeed), and Ohio still has an openly anti-choice House of Representatives, Senate, and governor. Our communities need to be ready to advocate for women and against the dangerous legislative climate in our state. Luckily, Ohio has a strong progressive community that we are proud to be a part of. When they hear the call, they take to the streets—or the statehouse—and they get heard!
On April 28, Women Have Options was asked to speak at the Columbus rally in conjunction with the national Unite against the War on Women event. This rally was a part of a nationwide network of rallies and marches designed to draw attention to the staggering amount of legislation that was proposed last year to strip women of their rights. Hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered at the Ohio Statehouse on a blustery Saturday morning to wave signs, march, and cheer for speakers who called on state and national legislators to defend women’s rights. Current and former representatives from Ohio’s legislature attended, including former congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy and current senator Michael Stinzano. Groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio, the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and others were represented. Speakers ranged from college-aged Planned Parenthood volunteers to State Senator Charleta D. Tavares. Women—and a few men too—from all walks of life came forward with the same message: that they were ready to stand up for Ohio’s women. The message of the day was conveyed by words from our own board chair, Nancy Pitts:
“It’s time for the women and men across the country to raise our voices and say stop. Stop this attack on women. Stop punishing. Stop hurting. Stop shaming. To the mostly men waging this war inside buildings like this who claim to value life, I’d like to call your bluff. There’s plenty of life all across the country that needs your help: the kids in our schools, and families without jobs or health insurance. We knew you weren’t pro-choice, now we see you’re not pro-life either. You’re simply anti-woman. […] The women and men here today, and women and men across the country, are tired of politicians who try to score political points with women’s health. Women’s health isn’t a political game to be won or lost. These are our lives.”
You can see further media coverage of the event here and here, and there are some beautiful photos on our Facebook page. With the election in November coming up soon, now is the time to get active and start holding legislators accountable for the way that women fare under the laws they pass. If you agree, now’s a great time to start getting involved with WHO/O. Get up, get loud, and raise your voice for choice!