As Roe falls, Northeast Ohioans express elation, devastation

Sarah Yuronka (right) hugs Leah Heiser as people gather for a rally in support of abortion rights in Akron on Friday. “We’re not going to give up hope,” Yuronka said in reaction to the day's news that the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade.
Sarah Yuronka (right) hugs Leah Heiser as people gather for a rally in support of abortion rights in Akron on Friday. “We’re not going to give up hope,” Yuronka said in reaction to the day's news that the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade. [Ryan Loew / Ideastream Public Media]

Updated: 6:40 p.m., Friday, June 24, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. 

The court held that "The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives," in the opinion.

Shortly after the opinion came down, two men stood outside Preterm, a clinic that provides abortions on Cleveland's East Side.

The court's ruling is "just one step bringing us closer to abolishing abortion," said Tom Tassio as he prayed the rosary. "It's not the end, but it's a step."

Tom Tassio

Tom Tassio prayed the rosary outside Preterm, a clinic in Northeast Ohio that provides abortion, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the constitutional right to abortion nationwide. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]

The other man standing outside the parking said in a loud voice, "These are babies, and you know it."

On the abortion-rights side, people expressed worry and deep frustration over the ruling.

Beth Vild, an abortion rights supporter from Akron, said she is concerned that people will die due to pregnancy complications where the mother’s life is in danger if abortion is no longer permitted in those situations.

“As someone who wants to have a kid in the next year or two, I’m seriously considering moving, because I am terrified in my late thirties to be having a kid somewhere that, if something goes wrong, I’m dead,” she said. "Our hearts also have a beat."

Vild was alluding to the so-called heartbeat bills, like one passed in Ohio in 2019, which ban abortion after about six weeks into a pregnancy, before many people know they're pregnant.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, had already asked a federal court to immediately put the so-called "heartbeat law" into effect if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, according to the Statehouse News Bureau. Friday evening, Yost announced a federal court had lifted the injunction against the law.

Vild said she is also worried people will die from seeking unsafe abortions.  

“This is an active attack on our rights. An active attack on our bodily autonomy. It’s an active attack on our futures, our families, and I can’t believe in 2022 we’re going through this,” Vild said. “This is the most hopeless I’ve ever felt in my whole life.”  

Vild and other pro-abortion advocates are currently gathering in Akron at a city council member’s residence. They are planning a rally at 4:30 this afternoon in Swirsky Park in Highland Square.

Parinita Singh, an abortion rights supporter in Akron, said she and other advocates are feeling disappointed and angry about the ruling. She said multiple friends have called her already today, crying.

Singh immigrated to the U.S. about 20 years ago from India.

“As an immigrant, I always believed America was one of the best nations in the world … being here and seeing how things function, it’s been a rude awakening,” she said. “I love being here; I absolutely love it, and that’s why I think there is definite room for improvement. I want it to be better, because I think it can be better.”

Singh said she wants to protest the ruling.

“I want to take to the streets right now," she said. "I just want to go walk in the streets, block traffic, just make noise, and let people know that we are not OK with this.”

The reaction on both sides was immediate. Those on the anti-abortion side expressed jubilation.

Abortion-rights advocates expressed dismay, but vowed a fight.

The ruling represents a major change for abortion policy in the U.S.

The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right to abortion in 1973 and has reaffirmed that right in subsequent decisions.

In recent years, more states, particularly those controlled by Republicans, have adopted laws that restrict abortion, the New York Times reported.

Between 2011 and July of 2019, states have enacted 483 new abortion restrictions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion statutes.

Some of the most common restrictions passed by states nationwide include parental notification or consent for minors, limits on public funding, mandated counseling and waiting periods and regulations on abortion facilities, Guttmacher said.

The number of facilities that provide abortion in Ohio is small.

In 2017, there were 14 facilities providing abortion in the state, according to Guttmacher. Nine of those were clinics.

That year, 20,630 abortions were provided in Ohio.

Prior to Friday's ruling, Ohio had already adopted laws that restricted abortion access, according to Guttmacher.

People seeking an abortion had to receive state-directed in-person counseling that included information that the the institute said was designed to discourage people from having an abortion, then wait 24 hours before having the procedure.

A parent of a minor was required to consent before the child could have an abortion, and most patients underwent an ultrasound before the procedure because the providers were required to test for a fetal heartbeat.

Ohio also prohibited abortions in response to a genetic abnormality and abortions at 20 or more weeks after fertilization could only be performed in cases of life endangerment or severely compromised health.

There is some confusion over what the Dobbs ruling will mean in Ohio.

In May, Republican lawmakers in the Ohio Legislature introduced a new bill fashioned after a Texas abortion law, the Statehouse News Bureau reported. Like the new Texas law, this legislation would also allow private citizens to take civil action against a person performing or inducing an abortion.

The bill also allows individuals to take legal action against others who help someone get an abortion.

There are also two other pieces of legislation in the Ohio Legislature which were introduced as "trigger" bills. They would ban abortion immediately if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

In May, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he was waiting to see the Supreme Court ruling before approving language for an abortion ban in Ohio. Huffman said he wants the language to be constitutional and effective. But he said he does want an abortion ban. About a third of the Ohio House has already signed on as co-sponsors to the bill under consideration there.

Attorney General Dave Yost and Gov. Mike DeWine, both Republicans, are looking into whether a 2019 law that's been put on hold by a federal court might be able to go into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The so-called “heartbeat” law bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into a pregnancy, before many people even know they are pregnant.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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