Columbus -- Last week marked the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
And that meant a week of abortion-related announcements around Capital Square, including candidate endorsements from abortion advocates, the announced closing of an abortion clinic and a postcard campaign targeting GOP lawmakers who won't back more rigid abortion restrictions:
• Endorsements: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald shifted the campaign focus to women's issues when he selected Dayton Democrat Sharen Neuhardt as his running mate (replacing state Sen. Eric Kearney after continued questions over tax obligations).
Neuhardt is a vocal advocate of women's health who played a prominent role in an October Statehouse rally by opponents of Republican-backed abortion restrictions.
It was not a surprise when Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio on Jan. 21 announced its endorsement of FitzGerald and Neuhardt along with the four other already-endorsed Democrats running for statewide office: state Rep. Connie Pillich (treasurer), state Rep. John Carney (auditor), David Pepper (attorney general) and state Sen. Nina Turner (secretary of state).
"We are going to have a lot of discussion about these issues in the next nine or 10 months," FitzGerald said after receiving the endorsement. "… I know that it sometimes frustrates our opponents when we talk so much about women's rights and the way that they've been restricted under this governor. ... I will stop talking about women's rights when he stops trying to restrict women's rights."
• Closing?: The Ohio Department of Health has denied a variance needed by a Cincinnati-area clinic to continue to conduct abortions, saying the location did not meet the state's licensing requirements.
The clinic is expected to appeal.
The decision drew cheers from Ohio Right to Life and jeers from abortion advocates.
"We want to thank the health department for enforcing Ohio law and refusing to allow the abortion industry to escape complying with health and safety standards," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in a released statement. "Women's health is priority number one and today's actions by the Kasich administration should serve as a wake-up call that Ohio will no longer turn a blind eye towards unhealthy medical practices."
"Gov. Kasich and his political appointees at the Ohio Department of Health are abusing their regulatory authority by moving to close an abortion clinic without any medical justification," Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in her own released statement
She added, "On the eve of the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, anti-choice forces are moving to make abortion inaccessible in Ohio -- regardless of the law. We call on Gov. Kasich to stop his regulatory witch hunt and quit interfering in women's medical decisions. Ohio women deserve better."
• Heartbeat Bill: Backers of stalled legislation that would ban abortions within weeks of conception said they would send postcards to voters criticizing "Republicans in Name Only" who aren't backing the law change.
"It's time we do 'whatever it takes' to bring the killing to an end," Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, the group behind the effort, said in a released statement. "The best way to protest 41 years of abortion on demand is to end it, and that's what we intend to do."
She added, "While these so-called 'pro-life' senators and state Reps. will likely make pro-life speeches at the marches and rallies for life today, their actions are far from their words. It's time for real pro-life candidates to step up to run for the seats currently held by pro-life imposters."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.