Tuesday, October 19

Reminder: Ohio’s Trigger Ban on Abortion Affects LGBTQ+ People Too

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With a track record of gradually chipping away at the constitutional right to access abortion care, the anti-choice brigade has finally teed up what they think is their home run: the chance to irrevocably alter the rights entailed by Roe vs. Wade, via a series of state bills that would trigger an absolute ban on abortion in the event of any court decision.

The Ohio legislature is a majority cis, straight, white, male body:

  • 73% of the Ohio legislature is male.
  • 82% of the Ohio legislature is white.
  • And with only one out member,  less than 1% of the Ohio legislature identifies as LGBTQ+.

That very unrepresentative body is about to vote on a measure that potentially outlaws abortion for all citizens in the state.

As far as I know, no member of the Ohio legislature has accessed abortion at any point in their own lives. That’s why I’ve made it a point of telling them my abortion story.

I know firsthand how critical access to abortion is. The first time I needed to choose abortion, I was living just above the federal poverty line, in an abusive relationship that I couldn’t see a way out of, and in poor physical health. My body, my finances, my mental health, my partnership, and my home were all incapable of caring for another human being. Rather than pass along my own cycles of trauma and abuse and the poor health outcomes I already face, I chose abortion.

I was fortunate that once I had made that choice, I was able to locate an advocate who helped me figure out how to get that abortion. That advocate helped me apply to a statewide abortion fund for support, since I couldn’t afford the $1000 price tag on my own, and the health insurance I had through my employment at a major service sector corporation specifically omitted coverage for abortion care.

Receiving financial assistance meant that I could build a new path forward for myself: I left that relationship, changed my professional trajectory, and left that city. My life looks totally different today and I continue repaying that original debt as a community advocate myself: from 2017-2020, I served as chair of the board of Preterm, Ohio’s largest independent abortion clinic.

Ohio Senate Bill 123 was heard in its legislative committee yesterday, September 29. If passed, the bill is queued up to be triggered by a federal Supreme Court challenge to Roe vs. Wade—that’s why these types of bills are called “trigger bans,” and they are waiting in statehouses across the country. If this type of legislation sounds familiar, it’s because it has been introduced in our state legislature before, along with many many other attempts at either banning specific types of abortion care or limiting the specific windows of time during which expectant parents could choose abortion care.

Potentially, we are weeks away from a near-complete ban on abortion access across the country and in the state of Ohio.

Abortion is an issue that affects us all, and all of us in the LGBTQ+ community included. If you want a family, came from a family, or care about anyone who has a uterus, abortion is an issue that affects you. In fact, 1 in 4 women in the US will choose abortion care at some point in their life. Anyone with a uterus may wind up needing abortion in their healthcare journey, as abortion is a commonly necessitated procedure for pregnancies that are ectopic or otherwise dangerous to the life of the parent.

If you do not own a uterus, chances remain high that you are part of the support structure of someone who is making decisions about their reproductive health that involves abortion care.

If you are thinking, “I don’t know anyone who has chosen abortion!,” you need to instead ask yourself, “Why hasn’t anyone in my life who owns a uterus felt comfortable telling me about their experience?” Because let me be clear: someone in your life who owns a uterus has had an abortion.

Yesterday my Ohio State Senator—and Assistant Minority Leader—Nickie J. Antonio spoke out against Senate Bill 123.

“This bill does not represent the views of the majority of Ohioans. We have a robust amount of data showing that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures when it is legal and accessible,” Senator Antonio said. “I am worried that extreme legislation like this will further discourage young people – especially doctors, lawyers, nurses and teachers – from moving to and staying in Ohio.”

It is no longer enough to just proclaim that we are in favor of choice. If the LGBTQ+ community truly wants to do the work required to attain the justice and equity that has long been denied us, we must ensure that abortion access—and reproductive healthcare more broadly—are made accessible to every member of our community.

Abortion is an LGBTQ+ issue. Abortion is our issue, yours and mine. Let’s make sure no member of our community is left behind. 🔥

Ignite Action:

  1. Contact members of the Ohio Senate Health Committee to demand an end to SB123 and trigger laws that endanger the right to access to abortion.
  2. The Rally for Abortion Justice will be held across the US on October 2. Across the country, people who care about abortion access and reproductive health, rights, and justice will hold local events in support of every person’s right to access affordable abortion care—free of harassment and political barriers. Find a rally near you.
  3. Local independent clinics are the frontline in abortion care, ensuring access for community members across the state. Learn more about Preterm and how to support their work.

About Author

Elaine Schleiffer is a community organizer, writer, and advocate focused on queer rights and public safety in Cleveland, Ohio. She is founding board chair of The Buckeye Flame, and has served as board chair at Preterm and as a board member at Plexus, the LGBT + Allied Chamber of Commerce in northeast Ohio.

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