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Abortion access, violence against women will be focus of Women’s March Saturday in Cleveland

photo of Cleveland Women's March
The Women's March movement began in 2017 after the inauguration of former President Donald Trump, according to the group.

Cleveland groups are planning a Women’s March on Saturday to join in with a National Weekend of Action.

Marches are planned across the country, including at least 16 in Ohio, according to Women's March.

Women's March Cleveland organizer Kathy Wray Coleman, a Black activist from Cleveland, said the event will host politicians, community activists and doctors, who will share personal stories about abortion and talk about the importance of access to the procedure.

Coleman said she’s hoping to energize women to vote.

“We believe they’re going to push House Bill 704 through, which outlaws abortion access,” Coleman said. “They’re coming after us.”

In July, Republican State Rep. Gary Click, who represents Fremont and Tiffin, introduced HB 704, known as the Personhood Act. If passed, the law would declare the personhood of an individual from the moment of conception. Abortion-rights activists have criticized similar personhood laws in other states, saying they could be used to deny access to abortion.

Beyond reproductive rights, Saturday's march will focus on violence against women. Sandra Hardwick, the mother of Britney Hardwick, the 22-year-old Cleveland women murdered two years ago, will talk about her daughter’s unsolved case, Coleman said.

In 2020, homicides of Black women and girls in Ohio doubled from the year before, as reported in the Guardian newspaper. Coleman said activists want 50 more detectives focused on solving homicides that have gone cold.

“They are not doing enough for women. And why? Because we let them do it,” she said. “But if we vote them out, maybe we can get some help.”

State Senator Nickie Antonio, who serves western Cuyahoga County, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Cheryl Stephens and State Rep. Jeffrey Crossman, of Parma, Brooklyn Heights and Cuyahoga Heights are expected to speak, Coleman said. All three are Democrats. There will also be a presentation about women in Iran and their fight for freedom, justice and equality.

As of Friday morning, more than 600 people had expressed interest in the event on Facebook.

The Women’s March Cleveland is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Market Square Park across from the West Side Market.

Taylor Wizner is a health reporter with Ideastream Public Media.