Dear John: Why Are You Afraid Of Feminists?

Dear John (Kasich):

It took me a few days to get up the courage to write you this open letter after you stood me up on Tuesday night. Me and 30 of my closest feminist friends waited peacefully outside of your Statehouse office for more than an hour, but we never saw you.

We wanted you to look us in the eyes as you headed into your chamber to sign the state’s budget bill. You know, the one stuffed with several unconstitutional anti-abortion regulations:

One provision stipulates that “transfer agreements” are only valid if the hospital is within 30 miles of the clinic, narrowing the shrinking pool of options even further. Another provision ensures that applications for waivers are automatically denied after 60 days, allowing the Department of Health to simply run out the clock as an indirect method of shutting down clinics.
— ThinkProgress.org, 'This State’s Attempt To ‘Regulate Abortion Out Of Existence’ Is Flying Under The Radar’, 6/29/2015

We gathered outside of your office to ask one small request of you: veto these back-door abortion restrictions from the budget.

Normally, we would have called you before just showing up outside of your door… Oh wait, we DID call your office, but no one answered. It went straight to voicemail every single time, even though we called during business hours on a Tuesday. It felt like you were avoiding us, despite the fact that we are your tax-paying constituents; the people who you were elected to represent.

So we showed up at the Statehouse to pass along our urgent message to you, our Governor, but instead we were met by the State Highway Patrol. Because a small group of feminists carrying hand-written notes is truly terrifying, I guess? As the officers questioned our group’s organizers, you slipped into your office through the back door like a coward. Like you were afraid of us. That had to be it, right?

Or maybe it wasn’t fear… maybe you just don’t give a damn about us? Yeah, I think that’s it. I came to this ugly realization when your Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor mockingly muttered under her breath, “I wonder how many of these people are vegetarians?” as she walked past me and my friends on her way into your office.

You used your veto pen more than 40 times, yet you purposefully chose to NOT veto anti-abortion provisions that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the budget. You knew these provisions violate the Ohio Constitution’s "single subject" rule, but you left them in anyways. Despite Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart’s recent ruling that it was unconstitutional for legislators to sneak similar abortion restrictions into the budget, you still signed this bill. It’s painfully obvious that you and the rest of Ohio's Republican legislators have decided that you can just pick and choose when to obey the courts and Constitution.

Because of this legislation, at least three abortion clinics could close, leaving Ohio with just six clinics to serve the entire state. But that was the whole point of this, right? You and your anti-choice administration claim these regulations are for the health and safety of women, but that’s just a clever cover-up for the truth:

These restrictions are completely medically unnecessary. A transfer agreement doesn’t need a mile restriction because in the very rare case of a medical emergency, the patient will be taken to the nearest hospital. If a variance for a transfer agreement had any impact on patient safety, why did the Ohio Department of Health wait three years before ruling on one last week in Dayton? These are political gimmicks, not health care regulations. Their only purpose is to make it harder, if not impossible, to get an abortion in Ohio.
— Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, 7/1/15

The women of Ohio are keenly aware of your administration's strategy to quietly enact useless abortion regulations that make it nearly impossible for abortion facilities to legally operate, with the intention of closing every single abortion clinic in the state.

The new rules for abortion providers handed to the Ohio Department of Health were added without any public input from the department. Abortion providers had no opportunity to provide testimony to any Finance committee or subcommittee.
— NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, "Ohio Women Condemn Sneaky Abortion Restrictions", 7/1/15

You seem to have forgotten that pro-choice women vote too. But we will not forget what you have done. While you’re on the Presidential campaign trail, the state will be wasting taxpayer dollars defending your administration's shady anti-abortion laws, which violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that women have a legal right to safely access abortion without the government placing undue burdens in their way.

It’s pretty laughable that you think you stand a chance at winning a national election when you blatantly choose to ignore the constituents, courts, and constitution of your home state. Do you really think you’re going to beat Hillary Clinton when you can’t even look a small group of women in the eyes as you use the state budget to screw us over?

Best of luck with your current campaign strategy. I'm truly looking forward to watching you lose in 2016.

Sincerely,

Amanda Patton
Registered Voter & Patient Advocate at Capital Care Network of Toledo

Tell Kasich To Veto Abortion Restrictions In The Budget

Yesterday, we joined nearly 100 pro-choice activists at the Ohio Statehouse to demand that our lawmakers remove two anti-abortion restrictions from the state’s proposed budget.

Women from every corner of the state traveled to Columbus to raise the alarm after Ohio House and Senate leaders quietly re-inserted the “30-mile” transfer agreement provision into the budget in an 11th hour attempt to close Toledo’s last abortion clinic.

While it was inspiring to be in the presence of so many progressive women, it was heartbreaking to witness our protests being ignored by the Republican majority in the House and Senate.

As explained in an editorial by the The Cleveland Plain Dealer, lawmakers officially passed the state budget with the following anti-abortion provisions still in-tact:

The anti-Toledo rule mandates that abortion clinics conclude a state-mandated emergency patient transfer agreement with a hospital that is no more than 30 miles away. The Toledo clinic had solved the conundrum of not being able to find a willing Ohio hospital by concluding a transfer deal with a Michigan hospital 50 miles away.

The other rule — one that likely will close a Dayton clinic that’s been waiting two years for a state variance allowing it to operate without a transfer agreement — requires a clinic to get such a variance within two months. Such a deadline would let squeamish state bureaucrats simply sit on their hands and let the clock run out.

These draconian rules aimed at closing Ohio’s abortion clinics appear to be a thinly veiled effort to get before the U.S. Supreme Court a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion.
— The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Editorial Board, 6/26/15, "Ohio budget bill is no place for abortion restrictions: editorial"

By allowing these anti-abortion restrictions to remain in the budget, Ohio’s lawmakers are blatantly disregarding the ruling of Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart, which stated that adding abortion licensing provisions to a state budget bill violates the Ohio Constitution’s "single subject" rule.

Referring to previous anti-abortion provisions that were added in a similar manner to the state’s budget bill in 2013, Judge Duhart’s ruling states:

Capital Care argues… the current licensing scheme is unconstitutional because it was improperly enacted as part of a huge appropriations bill, ‘HB 59’ and, thus, the ASF licensing scheme contained in HB 59 runs afoul of the so-called ‘single-subject’ rule embodied in the Ohio Constitution.

...The court concludes that the Current Scheme for licensing abortion-center ASFs, at issue here, violates the single-subject rule.
— Hon. Myron Duhart, Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Capital Care Network v. Ohio Department of Health, Opinion & Judgement 6/19/15

By adding these anti-abortion restrictions to the state’s new budget, Ohio’s legislators are purposefully ignoring the court’s opinion and the Constitution’s single-subject rule.

We join our friends at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio in urging all Ohioans to contact Governor Kasich and make it clear to him that these unconstitutional legislative tactics are outrageous and will not be tolerated by his constituents. 

Ohio women will not stand for 11th hour, backdoor maneuvers that end access to abortion. We demand that Gov. Kasich veto these measures.

A compassionate leader does not sign away women’s rights before jetting off to campaign stops in Iowa or New Hampshire. John Kasich cannot simply excuse his own actions by saying ‘I’m just signing what they gave me.’ He will be responsible when women die through unsafe, illegal abortions.
— Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, 6/25/15

At this point, the only way to remove the two anti-abortion restrictions from the budget is if John Kasich line item vetoes them.

Please call Governor Kasich's office at (614) 466-3555 and urge him to line item veto the abortion restrictions.

This Clinic Stays Open… But For How Long?

We’ve got some good news and some bad news.

THE GOOD NEWS: On Friday, Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart ruled in favor of Capital Care Network (CCN). After a year-long court battle with the state regarding the legality of CCN’s transfer agreement with University of Michigan Hospital, Judge Duhart ordered Friday that Toledo’s last abortion clinic remain open.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the case, the Kasich administration has been trying to shut down the clinic for a while, claiming the University of Michigan hospital is not close enough. The Columbus Dispatch explains the case’s background pretty well:

Nearly a year ago, the Ohio Department of Health ordered the clinic to close. Ohio law mandates that abortion clinics operate under a transfer agreement with a local, private hospital, or risk their license. Previously, the clinic had an agreement with the public University of Toledo Medical Center until it was barred from doing so in 2013 because of a provision put in the state budget that year.”

”In January 2014, Capital Care Network was able to get a transfer agreement with University of Michigan’s hospital, which is 50 miles away. Since then, anti-abortion activists claim it’s operated outside of the state’s law because the hospital wasn’t Ohio-based.”

”Since 2013, five abortion clinics have closed in the state. Eight — including the Capital Care Network — remain.”
— Columbus Dispatch, 6/19/15

In his ruling, Judge Duhart begins by noting, “It is now well-established in this country that ‘it is a constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy."

Later in the ruling, he states, “In this case, the Court finds that the state has exceeded its constitutional authority in applying to Capital Care the current statutory scheme for licensing abortion centers… Unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on the right."

Regarding transfer agreements: "The power to prohibit licensure may not constitutionally be placed in the hands of hospitals."

After the Judge Duhart's ruling was announced, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio released the following statement:

Despite all the back-door deals, and shady maneuvering, [Governor] John Kasich and [Attorney General] Mike DeWine have failed in their crusade to effectively outlaw abortion in Toledo. This is great news for Toledo’s women and we congratulate Attorney Jennifer Branch, and the staff at Capital Care Network on their court victory today.”

“The Ohio legislature and John Kasich ought to read Judge Duhart’s ruling carefully. They should remove the provisions that they added at the 11th hour that target abortion clinics in the currently proposed budget. These measures are also likely to be found to violate the due process rights of abortion providers and be found unconstitutional. It’s time for Kasich and DeWine to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on their personal quest to outlaw abortion.”
— Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, 6/19/15

The reaction from us here at CCN has been one of mixed emotions. On one hand, we are grateful to Judge Duhart and everyone who has supported us every step of the way. This was a huge win that we fought incredibly hard for. But the struggle is far from over. 

"I really cannot express how elated I am to say with confidence that northwest Ohio can continue to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women,” said Marlena Ainslie, spokesperson for Capital Care Network of Toledo. "This is far from the first and will certainly not be the last battle for the clinic, but [this ruling] says that Toledo has brave citizens, attorneys, activists, and at least one brave judge who believe in choice and rights for women."

This is where THE BAD NEWS comes in. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office told The Columbus Dispatch that the state plans to appeal the Lucas County court’s ruling. That means the legal battle will continue, which in turn means that more taxpayer funds will be spent by the state to defend unconstitutional abortion restrictions that would ultimately shut down CCN and other abortion clinics across Ohio.

On top of that, Ohio Right to Life has stated they will “fight like hell” to add and keep anti-abortion provisions in the state’s budget bill that would close CCN, as well as abortion clinics in Dayton and Cincinnati.

So the battle to keep abortion safe and legal in Ohio continues and we can’t fight it alone. We need pro-choice members of the community like you to help out in the following ways:

1. Contact ProMedica’s Toledo Hospital and urge them to sign a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network.

While Judge Duhart upheld CCN’s current transfer agreement with University of Michigan, there’s a chance that Ohio’s legislature could pass additional legislation that would limit transfer agreements to hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic. At this point, a transfer agreement with ProMedica would ensure that CCN is safe no matter what the legislature does (with regard to ASF transfer agreement laws).

2. Contact Attorney General Mike DeWine & Governor John Kasich.

Send a tweet, post on Facebook, send an email, make a phone call... whatever method you choose, make sure to tell Kasich and DeWine that you DO NOT approve of them wasting tax payer dollars to defend anti-abortion laws that have already been ruled unconstitutional by Lucas County Judge Duhart.