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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Black Ohio Democratic lawmakers criticize Vance over comments about abortion

 Abortion rights supporters protest at the Ohio Statehouse on June 26. [Jo Ingles / Statehouse News Bureau]
Abortion rights supporters protest at the Ohio Statehouse on June 26.

Some Democratic members of Ohio’s Black Legislative Caucus are blasting Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance for comments he’s made about abortion recently.

In a press conference organized by the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP), the Black state lawmakers took issue with Vance for calling rape “inconvenient” and comparing abortion to slavery.

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) said the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned the right to legal abortion nationwide, and Ohio's new abortion ban that makes the practice illegal at the first signs of fetal heart activity, which usually happens around six weeks into a pregnancy, is taking a toll on Black women.

“We have seen a huge threat on the access to health care when it comes to women having abortions here within the state of Ohio," Brent said. "As we look at this decision, we look at the ignorance that candidate J.D. Vance has decided to put out there comparing abortion to slavery…This person has decided to compare one to the two.” 

Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) said it’s appalling, especially when you consider Black women have higher maternal mortality rates, less access to health care and poorer health outcomes.

“The idea that he would talk about slavery and the disproportionate impact on Black females, how dare he?," Ingram asked.

Vance is also coming under fire from Democrats for statements he's made about divorce. This comes after Vice reported Vance said in a speech that Americans would be better off staying in unhappy and “even violent” marriages.

Vance has not returned calls for comment. In fact, Vance isn't speaking out in public forums in Ohio much these days. He has been criticized by some Republicans for not being on the campaign trail enough this summer and for not raising enough political campaign money. But Vance is endorsed by Ohio Right to Life as well as most of the Ohio organizations that oppose abortion in most or all cases.

Republicans have repeatedly pointed out Vance's opponent, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), was against legal abortion until shortly before he decided to run for higher office. Republicans also note Ryan now wants to allow legal abortion even into later stages of pregnancy.

Ryan has explained he was initially against abortion, largely due to his beliefs as a Catholic. But he said he's listened and learned from others about why abortion should be legal. He said women face tough choices and added government should not have a part in that decision.

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