It has been 41 years since abortion became legal in the United States. Yet the controversy over it continues as states adopt measures to restrict it, including Ohio, where several controversial abortion bills were passed and signed into law last year. Now, as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, it appears abortion might be on the front burner in this year’s election.
It’s probably not a surprise who Stephanie Kight, the leader of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, supports in this November’s election.
"Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio is proud to endorse Ed FitzGerald as governor of the State of Ohio," Kight said.
And it’s not just FitzGerald who received the organization’s endorsement. Every Democratic candidate for statewide offices also has the endorsement of the organization. In accepting the endorsement, each candidate said they’d make women’s rights a key part of their campaign. FitzGerald believes Governor Kasich didn’t talk about it in his last campaign but should have given his support for so many abortion restrictions that have been signed into law.
"What we have gotten is a series of extreme proposals that have virtually nothing to do with economic development," FitzGerald said. "Whether it’s cuts to education or cuts to local government services that affect police and firefighters, or politicizing health care in particular the decisions women face in their greatest hours of need. That isn’t what he campaigned on but that is what his agenda has been since he’s been in office."
FitzGerald says he’s hearing a lot of discontent about the new Republican passed abortion laws when he travels the state. He says those new laws unfairly restrict abortions, took family planning money away from Planned Parenthood and made it harder for abortion clinics to operate. The president of Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, is glad FitzGerald and other Democrats are putting the issue front and center.
"By their willingness to put this issue fore front, we thank them, because all of the polling demonstrates that we win with commonsense approaches," Gonidakis said.
Gonidakis says his group’s political action committee hasn’t endorsed candidates yet. But he admits when that committee meets, it will probably endorse mostly Republicans.
"We vet them and then we pick the ones that believe in the mission of our organization so therefore we will be endorsing," Gonidakis said. "If the PAC so chooses, to be a Republican slate."
Gonidakis says Democrats who agree with the group’s mission could get the group’s endorsement but most of the Democratic candidates tend to support abortion rights.
When you look at statewide polling on issues, job creation and education are the ones that continually land at the top of the list. But both sides in the abortion debate say it’s time to make their positions known to voters. If Republicans win another term in office, it would give them the opportunity to pass more abortion restrictions if they want. And Democrats say voters need to be asking questions about those plans now, not later.